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YOUNG ENGLAND 

being 

Vivian Grey, Coningsby, Sybil, Tancred 

by Benjamin Disraeli 

in 4 Vols. 





CONINGSBY 



9 



CONINGSBY 



By 

Benjamin Disraeli, 



EDITED BY 



BERNARD N. LANGDON-DAVIES, M.A. 



ILLUSTRATIONS BY 

BYAM SHAW, R,L 



W-2. 




LONDON AND EDINBURGH 
R. BRIMLEY JOHNSON 

1904 



9R 
a 



GLASGOW : PRINTED AT THE UNIVBRSITV PRESS 
BV ROBERT MACLEHOSE AND CO. LTD. 



CONINGSBY; 



OR, THE 



NEW GENERATION 



BY 



B. DISKAELI, ESQ. M.P. 

AUTHOR OF ''CONTARINI FLEMING." 



LONDON: 

HENRY COLBURN, PUBLISHER; 

GREAT MARLBOROUGH STREET. 
1844. 



TO 

HENRY HOPE. 



It is not because these volumes were conceived and 
partly executed amid the glades and galleries of the 
Deepdene, that I have inscribed them with your 
name. Nor merely because I was desirous to avail 
myself of the most graceful privilege of an author, 
and dedicate my work to the friend, whose talents I 
have always appreciated and whose virtues I have ever 
admired. 

But because in these pages I have endeavoured to 
picture something of that development of the new 
and, as I believe, better mind of England, that has 
often been the subject of our converse and specula- 
tion. 

In these volumes you will find many a thought 
illustrated and many a principle attempted to be estab- 
lished that we have often together partially discussed 
and canvassed. Doubtless you may encounter some 
opinions with which you may not agree, and some 
conclusions the accuracy of which you may find cause 
to question. But if I have generally succeeded in my 



vu 



DEDICATION 



object : to scatter some suggestions that may tend to 
elevate the tone of public life ; ascertain the true 
character of political parties ; and induce us for the 
future more carefully to distinguish between facts and 
phrases, realities and phantoms ; I believe that I shall 
gain your sympathy, for I shall find a reflex to their 
efforts in your own generous spirit and enlightened 
mind. 

A. 



Grosvenor Gate, 

May- Day, 1844. 



vm 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

General Introduction, xi 

Introduction, xv 

Book I., I 

IL, 76 

III., 133 

IV., - 185 

v., 311 

VL, 370 

VII., 414 

VIII., 469 

IX., 529 

Notes, - 57^ 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

The History of Heroes is the History of Youth 

(p- H5)> - - - - - - - Frontispiece 

The Daughter of the Star, ----- Page 298 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 

The aim of this edition is to present the Young 
England movement, the judgments and ideals of the 
Young Tory party, as conceived by its leading states- 
man in the enthusiasm of youth. The historical 
and political significance of the four novels justifies 
at once their isolation from Disraeli's other work 
and their publication as a series complete in itself. 
Coningsby^ Sybils and Tancred were actually con- 
templated in sequence by their author. Vivian Grey 
foreshadows what they expound. 

Disraeli wrote many novels with no didactic 
purpose : others were certainly inspired, if not 
in every detail, by certain fundamental ideas in 
politics and philosophy. It is these latter with 
which we are concerned, and which we desire to 
interpret. 

Vivian Grey has been hitherto accepted as a mere 
boyish freak of clever literary bravado — an auto- 
biography and a portrait gallery. It is neither, but 
contains, in fact, a broader study of human life, 
particularly illustrated by the fall and regeneration 
of too presumptuous youth than its author ever 
again attempted. I find here also unmistakable 
indications of the ' Young England ' ideals to which 
the later novels of our group are consciously and 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 



avowedly devoted. Coningsby represents the exist- 
ing state of political parties : the new creed and its 
mission. Sybil is a study of the conditions and the 
relations of rich and poor in England, and of the 
policies required to cure their defects. Tancred 
illustrates the power of the Church as a national 
institution and a remedial agency, while incidentally 
revealing Disraeli's Imperial ideals. 

Bearing in mind the special interest always attach- 
ing to the youthful expression of an ideal — one, too, 
which is avowedly dependant on the strength and 
inspiration of youth, I have determined to reprint 
the novels as they were originally issued. In later 
editions, now alone available, of Vivian Grey whole 
chapters and characters were omitted, and minor 
revisions confront us at every turn. Yet these 
changes were never acknowledged and have not, so 
far as I can ascertain, been remarked by his critics. 
To-day we are more desirous of studying the 
ideas of the youth, than that youth's ideas corrected 
some twenty years later by the man. 

At the present time, when the acquisition of wealth 
is often openly adopted as an Ideal of Life, when Faith 
is called Faddism, and Enthusiasm Fanaticism, it 
cannot but be well to study — through the writings of 
its chief exponent — a political movement which based 
its practices on its faith, and its faith upon a nobler 
ideal than materialism — in an age when, as now, the 
older political watchwords were outworn and con- 
fused, and it was for the youth of the nation, * the 
trustees of posterity,' to form and mould them anew. 

BERNARD N. LANGDON-DAVIES. 

COPTHILL, 1904. 

xii 



GENERAL INTRODUCTION 



A few notes are appended to each volume on 
obscure or forgotten incidental allusions and incidents 
of contemporary history. Brief bibliographical notes 
will point the way for any desirous of studying 
the subject further for themselves. My thanks are 
due to Mr. Lucian Oldershaw for his assistance in 
reading proofs, as well as for the original conception 
of the reprint, and for help and advice at every stage 
of its progress. Of the two drawings in each novel 
by Mr. Byam Shaw, one is designed as an allegorical 
presentation of its central idea, the second is illustra- 
tive of a leading incident. 

B. N. L-D. 



0. xiii 



INTRODUCTION 



Nearly a century ago there flourished at Cambridge 
one of those groups of clever and enthusiastic young 
men, who form themselves into societies to read 
papers, to hold discussions and to formulate theories 
of private and public well-being. The Universities 
are, and always have been, the natural homes of 
societies founded with every kind of intellectual ideal, 
and for every kind of intellectual exercise, and it is 
often from these societies that ideas emerge into the 
world to produce practical results. It is but rarely, 
however, that a society which consists of men of the 
same or similar views, whose ideals are but slightly 
academic, and whose members are for the most part 
so young, attains to such general and lasting fame as 
did the ' Apostles.' Led by Frederick Denison 
Maurice, and counting among its members such 
men as Alfred Tennyson, Monckton Milnes, R. C. 
Trench, Charles Buller, and Arthur Hallam, this 
Society gave birth and inspiration at the University 
to what afterwards became in politics the Young 
England Party. Looked at more broadly the Society 
was itself a part of a wider movement which affected 
not only England but the whole of Europe early in 
the nineteenth century. In literature it appeared as 
the Romantic Revival, in government as a return of 

XV 



INTRODUCTION 



political faith, and an appreciation of the duties of the 
classes and of the rights of the masses. It finally 
swept away the coarse materialism, the infidelity, and 
the sentimental artificiality of the eighteenth century, 
and gave birth to a vigorous belief in the legitimacy 
of the desire to live and to enjoy life, to be swayed 
by generous emotions, and to give allegiance to noble 
causes. Call it the Romantic Revival, call it the 
heritage of the French Revolution, call it what you 
will ; it was Vigour and Faith usurping the place 
of Apathy and Infidelity. 

In England, however, there was no apparent up- 
heaval which marked this change. There was no 
one year, one movement, one body of men, which 
appears in history as the hinge upon which the 
door leading to the new ideals opened. In France 
the appearance of the great Encyclopaedia was the 
first sign, the assembling of the States-General, and 
the fall of the Bastille are cardinal events. England 
had never had to bear the burden of aristocracy, 
either civil or ecclesiastical, as France or even Ger- 
many had to bear it. Neither of these influences 
was at work to unite in revolt her philosophers and 
her peasants, her men of genius and her paupers. 

The constitutional liberty of England was, as every 
schoolboy knows, founded at Runnymede far back in 
the thirteenth century. After many interruptions 
and many experiments the machinery of this con- 
stitutional liberty has, by a long series of almost 
automatic changes of detail, lasting from 1641 or 
1688 down to the present day, been brought to 
something approaching completion. It cannot be 
said that it was the Grand Remonstrance of 1641, 
or the Convention Parliament of 1688, or the 
growth of Cabinet Government under Walpole in 

xvi 



INTRODUCTION 



the eighteenth century, or the Reform of Parliament 
under Earl Grey, Lord John Russell, and Mr. Glad- 
stone in the nineteenth, which was the actual turning 
point in the history of our constitutional develop- 
ment. The reforms, or rather the advances, have 
been slow and tentative, and for the most part 
peaceful. It has long been the custom to regard the 
Reform Bill as the English Revolution. Disraeli 
himself called it so, and to the men who lived 
through the delirious period of its passing, no doubt 
it seemed a revolution. But as a matter of fact 
it did little more than arrange the practical working 
of an accepted principle. Class interest, prejudice, 
and views of expediency were opposed to it, con- 
sequently it created an uproar, but it was not a 
revolution. 

The political and the social aspects of a revolution 
are not identical, and are but rarely contemporaneous. 
Rarely it happens that a sweeping change in the 
machinery of government is accompanied by a change 
in the status, well-being, and happiness of the in- 
dividual citizen. More often the constitutional 
changes precede by many years, and only partially 
and remotely cause the social amelioration of a people. 
Men believe that better machinery will immediately 
conduce to better conditions of life and govern- 
ment. Generally constitutional reform and social 
reform are two things produced by the same 
movement and inter-acting to help each other for- 
ward. In this light may political affairs in England 
during the first half of the nineteenth century be 
regarded. The constitutional reforms of a century 
and a half did not and could not produce the results 
expected of them by their authors. All the difficulties 
caused by the introduction of machinery and the con- 



INTRODUCTION 



sequent shifting of the population were not .cured 
because Manchester was represented in Parliament. 
The sordid ideals and the gross materialism of the 
eighteenth century were not swept away by the 
Reform Bill or Catholic Emancipation. Poverty 
was not done away w^ith by the Poor Laws, nor 
crime by the Criminal Law Reforms. 

In 1844, the year of the publication of Coningsby^ 
the political situation was uncertain and difficult. 
The great reform ministry had gradually broken up, 
and the Whigs had definitely fallen from power. 
Already, however, Peel was embarking on that course 
which caused Disraeli to say of him that he ' had 
caught the Whigs bathing and run away with their 
clothes.' Chartism was still alive and the terrors it 
engendered in the public mind were still fresh. Mass 
meetings were being held from end to end of the 
country to denounce the principles of Protection, and 
to urge the cause of Free Trade. O'Connell and his 
followers were setting fire to the fuel in Ireland by 
their systematized agitation for the repeal of the 
Union. The Reform Bill had been passed, the 
Criminal Law reformed, Catholics emancipated, and 
the Poor Laws recast. Yet social distress and con- 
stitutional grievances were still evolving the monster 
of Revolution and none knew how to banish it. Each 
question settled, each reform passed, seemed to call 
into existence new questions, new grievances and new 
difficulties. Puzzling as this might be to the men of 
the time, the reasons for it are clear enough to-day. 
Whole classes, towns, and districts had existed before 
the Reform Bill, powerless in politics, unless it were 
for agitation, but each and all with their special 
political and social needs, grievances and aspirations. 
Year by year the numbers and powers of this new 

xviii 



INTRODUCTION 



nation were growing ; year by year each section of it 
came to a clearer perception of what it had not got, 
and what it wanted. When political power came to 
these men, it was but a beginning. They or their 
friends had now in their hands the instrument with 
which to bring about the changes they desired ; in 
the use of that instrument they were as yet un- 
skilled and ignorant. 

To classify statesmen who were faced with these 
difficulties as Whig or Tory is not enough. At 
this time the party labels merely served to show 
with what associates the men were for the time 
being acting. At any moment either party was 
liable to a complete dissolution, and the party- 
divisions might on any given question be formed 
anew. By whatever names we call them, there were 
in regard to the questions of the day four main 
bodies in Parliament. In the first place there were 
those who had opposed and still murmured at the 
Reform Bill ; the old high Tories, that landed 
aristocracy which followed the Duke of Wellington, 
the Duke of Buckingham and, in his earlier days. Sir 
Robert Peel. Next came two groups who were 
officially opposed to one another, but whose gradual 
tendency during this period was towards union. The 
first of these consisted of those members of the Tory 
party who now accepted the principle of the Reform 
Bill and who could be convinced of a need for 
further and consequent reform, but who did not 
give unqualified adherence to what may be regarded 
as the Whig doctrines of civil and religious equality. 
The views of this party were those of Peel's famous 
Tamworth Manifesto of 1834. He had then said 
that he considered ' the Reform Bill as a final and 
irrevocable settlement of a great constitutional ques- 

xix 



INTRODUCTION 



tion/ and had also said, * if the spirit of the Reform 
Bill implies merely a careful review of institutions, 
civil and ecclesiastical, undertaken in a friendly 
temper, combining, with the firm maintenance of 
the established rights, the correction of proved abuses 
and the redress of real grievances — in that case, 
I can for myself and colleagues undertake to act in 
such a spirit and with such intentions.' Almost 
identical with these were the views of the official 
Whig party. They were at this date only just 
recovering from the shock of their great successes. 
It was impossible that people called Whigs should 
coalesce so soon after the Reform Bill with people 
called Tories, but, save for the name, the two groups 
might, as regards their guiding principles of govern- 
ment, have been classed together. Lastly, there was 
the comparatively small body of the statesmen who 
saw in the Reform Bill but the means of introducing a 
long series of further reforms. In 1 844 this body was 
small and its members were generally regarded as 
agitators and fanatics ; before long it became the pre- 
ponderating force in the Whig party. For the sake 
of clearness these four parties at this transition stage 
may be called Tory, Conservative, Whig and Radical. 

Such was the position of political parties when 
Disraeli produced Coningshy in 1844. 

Since the appearance of Vivian Grey in 1826 
he had not been idle. He had travelled in Spain, 
Italy, the Levant and the south-east of Europe. 
He had stood four times for Parliament before 
he was elected member for Maidstone in 1837. 
He had become one of the best-known figures 
in English society, and was beginning to be a 
power in politics. But it was as an author that 
he was, as yet, most famous. Besides Vivian Grey 

XX 



INTRODUCTION 



he had written The Toung Duke, Contarini Flemings 
Popanilla^ The Wondrous Tale of Alroy, The Rise of 
Iskander, The Revolutionary Epic, Venetia, and Henrietta 
Temple. It was through these works and through 
his position in London society that Disraeli had 
attained to his extraordinary reputation, but it 
is not for these things that this period of his 
career is chiefly important. Before his election 
to Parliament he had appeared before the public 
as a correspondent on political subjects to the 
newspapers, and he had published four important 
political pamphlets. Some knowledge of these 
pamphlets, as well as of the history of his early 
years in the House of Commons, is necessary to 
show how he came to hold the views of parties 
and policies which we shall find in Coningsby as the 
tenets of young England. 

What is He ?, The Present Crisis Examined, A 
Vindication of the British Constitution, and the Runny- 
mede Letters are the four pamphlets from which 
Disraeli's political position in the years before he 
entered Parliament may be learned. Much has been 
made of his inconsistencies during these early years 
of his political life; he has been represented as a 
time-server and a political traitor ; he has been 
accused of obscurantism and charlatanism. ' He 
who anticipates his century,' said Mr. Sievers in 
Vivian Grey, ' is generally persecuted when living, 
/and is always pilfered when dead.' Perhaps Disraeli 
anticipated his century, or perhaps he only committed 
the crimes of being a novelist as well as a statesman, 
of being more interested in principles of life and of 
government than in details of livelihood and admini- 
stration. At all events he used every effort to 
make his position clear. He may have been right 

XX i 



INTRODUCTION 



or he may have been wrong hi his ideals ; what 
irritated his opponents and what raised a scornful 
smile where it did not force an angry retort was 
the fact that he possessed ideals at all. 

The first, second and third articles of his political 
creed were his opposition to Whiggism. * If there 
be anything on which I pique myself,' he said in 
1835, ' ^^ ^s ^y consistency. Here is my consistency. 
I have always opposed with the utmost energy the 
party of which my honourable opponent is a dis- 
tinguished member.' And what was his reason for 
this hostility to the Whigs ? Was he opposed to 
the principle of civil and religious equality, which 
may be taken as the foundation of the Whig 
position ? This was a principle in which Disraeli pro- 
bably had but little faith. Such equality he very 
likely conceived as neither desirable nor possible. 
Still it was not this which provoked his chief opposi- 
tion. He expressed his objection clearly enough 
when he wrote in one of his pamphlets, * A Tory, 
and a Radical, I understand ; a Whig, a democratic 
aristocrat, I cannot comprehend.' Looking at the 
history of the Whig party broadly, and after an 
interval of time, we can discern its leading principles. 
Viewed at close quarters at the time of Disraeli's 
entrance into political life, those principles appeared 
to him unreal or paradoxical. It was essential, he 
maintained, that the country should have a strong 
government. And in view of the condition of the 
country described above he was right. It was clear 
that neither the Tories nor the Whigs could provide 
such a government. What was the reason ? Because 
neither of them had a principle on which to govern. 
The choice lay between the aristocratic and the 
democratic principles. The Whigs were an aristo- 

xxii 



INTRODUCTION 



cratic party and had tried to make their aristocratic 
sway permanent by the Reform Bill. The Bill itself 
was therefore an aristocratic measure, but the way 
in which it had been passed against the will of the 
House of Lords had destroyed the aristocratic 
principle. The advance to the democratic principle 
was now necessary or no government could be 
strong. The Whigs would not and could not make 
this advance. The Tories must coalesce with the 
Radicals and form a National Party. 

These are the main lines of Disraeli's political 
creed in his early political hfe, and he was consistent 
enough in his adherence to them. Towards in- 
dividual measures his views changed from time to 
time and he frankly acknowledged the fact. Triennial 
Parliaments he thought, in 1832, essential in order 
to break the power of the Whig oligarchy ; at the 
same date he conceived that the Ballot alone could 
* give country gentlemen a chance of representing 
neighbouring towns where they are esteem.ed, instead 
of the nominees of a sectarian oligarchy.' By 1835 
it was evident that the power of the Whigs was 
not permanent, and Disraeli v/as willing to admit 
that he had been mistaken in his view that the 
constitution could not be efficient without the passing 
of these two measures. 

The first five years of his Parliamentary life were, 
save for his historic failure in his first attempt, and his 
sympathetic speech on the Chartist petition, unevent- 
ful to the public view. He was at first unpopular, an 
object of derision for the peculiarities of his dress and 
manner, of suspicion for his nationality, and of fear 
for his powers and his ideals. British statesmen 
naturally enough resented their political parties being 
refounded and educated, and their leading men 

xxiii 



INTRODUCTION 



being attacked by such an individual as they imagined 
Disraeli to be. Meanwhile his ideals of a Tory 
Democracy remained as strong as ever, and he had 
learned by experience that to win he must wait and 
work and plan. When he found that the Tory party 
would not listen to his teaching, and before Peel's 
conversion to Free Trade gave him the glorious 
opportunity of capturing the old Tory allegiance, 
he sought to lay the foundations of the National 
Party by means of Young England. 

Young England was never really a political party, 
nor was it at any time an organised force of any 
kind. It was originally one of those spontaneous 
associations of men with kindred aims which occur 
from time to time in all politics. It had no com- 
pulsory creed, though, as the guiding principles of 
its members were similar, their views on individual 
measures were usually the same. It arose among 
the young Tories first returned to the Parliaments of 
1837 and 1841 ; it broke up over Peel's proposal to 
increase the grant to the Maynooth College in 1845. 
But it was out of its fragments and on the basis of 
its ideals that Disraeli built up the Tory Democracy 
which was completed in 1874. A few scattered 
speeches, some paragraphs, chapters and magazine 
articles, the verses of Lord John Manners, and the 

* Historic Fancies ' of Lord Strangford ; these, besides 
Disraeli's novels, are the only direct and definite 
records of Young England. Yet its spirit permeated 
English political parties and perhaps the whole of 
English life. 

The power, the inspiration, the splendour of 

* glittering youth' was its first belief, and perhaps this 
fundamental article of its creed has had the greatest 
influence of all as the years have gone on. This 

xxiv 



INTRODUCTION 



belief in youth, shadowed forth in Vivian Grey^ was 
definitely stated again and again in the pages of the 
novels written specifically to expound the Young 
England principles and in the speeches made by 
Disraeli and his Young England friends at the time. 
Enough perhaps was said to make this clear in the 
introduction to Vivian Grey. But in Coningsby a 
definite group of individuals is portrayed, and their 
school and University life and subsequent entrance 
into Parliament are sketched. It is essentially a study 
of young men, and in a great measure of certain par- 
ticular young men — the Young England group. 
The I^ew Generation is the second title of the work, 
and it is to the new generation that its teachings were 
addressed. Youth and the power of the individual 
are its constant theme. ' It is a holy thing to see a 
state saved by its youth,' said Coningsby. 

And it was not only a belief in the power at 
all times of youth that Young England professed, 
but also a belief in the special importance and in- 
fluence of youth at that particular epoch. The new 
conditions of social and political life brought about by 
the inventions of steam and electricity, by the wide 
distribution of the franchise and by the assuring of 
civil and religious equality, had put a special trust 
into the hand of the young men of the day. 'The 
youth of a nation,' said Disraeli in a speech at the 
Manchester Athenaeum in 1844, 'are the trustees of 
posterity ; but the youth I address have duties 
peculiar to the position which they occupy. They are 
the rising generation of a society unprecedented in 
the history of the world, that is at once powerful and 
new. In other parts of the kingdom the re- 
mains of an ancient civilization are prepared to 
guide, to cultivate, to influence the rising mind, 

XXV 



INTRODUCTION 



but they are born in a miraculous creation of 
novel powers, and it is rather a providential in- 
stinct that has developed the necessary means of 
maintaining the order of your new civilization, than 
the nurtured foresight of man. This is their in- 
heritance. They will be called on to perform duties 
— great duties. I, for one, wish for their sakes, and 
for the sake of our country that they may be per- 
formed greatly. I give to them that counsel which I 
have ever given to youth, and which I believe to be 
the wisest and best — I tell them to aspire. I believe 
that the man who does not look up will look down ; 
and that the spirit that does not dare to soar is 
destined perhaps to grovel.' 

But, as Sidonia says, it is not youth, but geniiis 
when young, that is divine. Enthusiasm, strength, 
youth, all are invaluable as adjuncts to the wise 
promulgation of true ideals ; of themselves they are 
nothing. What was it that the youth of England were 
to do, when they had recognised their responsibilities ? 
For the answer to this question we must turn to the 
pages of the novels, Coningsby^ Sybil, and Tancred. 
Sybil, which is a study of the condition of the 
people, and Tancred, which is primarily a study 
of the duties of the Church in the regeneration 
of the country, will be dealt with elsewhere. 
Coningsby was doubtless originally intended to 
embrace the exposition of the whole creed and 
of all the problems which had to be solved. 
But its author found, while writing it, or after its 
conclusion, that the subject was too extensive for 
a single work. Therefore while only touching, in 
the conversations and in a few of the incidents, on 
the present state of the country and the proposed 
remedies for its ills, his chief purpose was, as he said 

xxvi 



INTRODUCTION 



himself in the preface to the fifth edition in 1849, 
*to vindicate the just claims of the Tory party j 
to be the popular political confederation of the 
country.' 

But before proceeding to the examination of the 
method in which these claims are vindicated, let us 
pause for a moment and estimate the literary value 
of Coningsby. Has it any claim to rank with the 
great novels of its day? Dickens was in 1844 
already a popular favourite ; Thackeray was in the 
field ; Lytton had completed much of his work. 
And what made Coningsby so eagerly welcomed, 
so widely read, and so universally criticized at such 
a time } The wit and originality of the dialogue, 
the piquancy lent to the characters by their sugges- 
tions of portraiture or caricature, the fascination of 
having the contents of the daily papers presented in 
the perspective of a story, all these, no doubt, would 
have arrested for a few weeks or months the attention 
of Londoners and a few others. But Coningsby lived 
to be read and re-read down to the present day ; it 
was translated .into French; it has always been 
eagerly studied in America. Witty dialogue, piquant 
portraiture, and above all contemporary allusions are 
not enough to win such support as this. 

And further, it must be admitted that Coningsby 
cannot claim a plot which is in all respects ideal, for 
the incidents are liable to straggle in a somewhat 
disorderly manner after the fundamental ideas. Nor 
are all of the characters the delineations of a master- 
hand. Coningsby himself is a prig and is meant to 
be a hero ; Sidonia is a perfect piece of intellectual 
and practical mechanism, and is meant to be an 
inspiring and powerful man ; and indeed most of the 

xxvii 



INTRODUCTION 



characters leave upon us the impression of a set 
of opinions or a number of actions rather than of 
human beings. The caricature is a different matter, 
but there is not enough of it in Coningshy to 
sustain the interest of the reader by itself. It may 
confidently be asserted that neither in 1844, nor 
to-day will the fascination of the novel be found 
to emanate from its plot, nor to any great extent 
from the characters and their originals, nor alone 
from the attractive qualities mentioned above. 

A work of art to live must create. And the 
superficial excellences of Coningshy as a work of 
art would not have been enough to overcome its 
defects, had it not created something which was 
of more than local and temporary power and 
interest. The first part of Vivian Grey had been 
an attempt at this creation, and had been hailed 
by Guizot as the first political novel. Coningshy 
was the development of Vivian Grey. High life 
was represented in novels like Pelham and the 
tales of Mrs. Gore, middle and low life by Dickens, 
adventurous life by Scott and his followers, domestic 
life by Jane Austen, Susan Ferrier and John Gait. 
But there had not yet been a novel of political life. 
In an age of politics, the romance, the personnel and 
the incidents of political life had, before the appear- 
ance of Co;^/;/^j^j with its initial experiments Vivian 
Grey^ Popanilla^ and Contarini Fleming, gone unre- 
presented. Disraeli had created a new type. 
The novel is essentially political, written to 
expound* a political creed, and read in its own 
day to learn what that creed was. It is for this 
reason that, without a full appreciation and study 
of the purely political chapters, the book is only 
half appreciated. The lapse of sixty years has 

xxviii 



INTRODUCTION 



rendered the thinly disguised allusions and references 
obscure to the reader, and some analysis and explana- 
tion has become essential. A dozen such political 
stories might be written, which would never deserve to 
be exhumed. Coningsby is an exception. It is an ex- 
ception because of the brilliance of its wit, the 
keenness of its satire and the force of its ideas; 
it is also an exception because the political circum- 
stances are less remote from our own than at first 
sight appears, and because it deals not only with 
isolated incidents and with party moves, but also 
with universal principles of government and states- 
manship. 

The great accusation Young England brought 
against the Whig party was, that it had caused 
England to be governed since the accession of the 
House of Hanover by, what Disraeli calls The 
Venetian Constitution. The government, as in 
Venice, had been carried on by a close oligarchy. A 
certain fixed and inelastic number of noble families 
had been available for the councils, and these 
had selected and controlled the royal prisoner. 
The people as a whole had had no control of 
the Government either directly or indirectly, and 
the forms of the constitution precluded them 
from the possibility of obtaining it. The Whigs, 
he maintains, from the time they first existed 
under Charles I. had consistently and intentionally 
aimed at making England into a Venetian Republic. 
At their first definite attempt they overreached 
themselves, and, as Coningsby said, ' Geneva beat 
Venice.' The Puritan Republic was more than 
England could stomach, and more than the Whigs 
desired or could control, and the attempt failed. 
From this time onwards they had steadily and con- 
c c. xxix 



INTRODUCTION 



sistently pursued the same object. Their next defin- 
ite move was the importation of William III. But 
* William III. found them out.' He told their 
Whig leaders, ' I will not be a Doge.' He balanced 
parties, he baffled them as the Puritans baffled them 
fifty years before. With Anne the Venetians were 
more successful. ' Two great Whig nobles, Argyle 
and Somerset, worthy of seats in the Council of 
Ten, forced their sovereign on her death-bed to 
change the ministry.' And so the Whigs brought in 
the House of Hanover and dictated their terms to 
the Georges. From that time till the Reform Bill 
the English Sovereign had been a Doge, and the 
great families, for the most part Whig, had formed 
the Councils. The Newcastles, the Churchills, the 
Godolphins, the Carterets, the Foxes, the Pitts, 
and a few other families had practically controlled 
the government of England for a century. 

(^ To this form of government the principal objec- 
tion was that the people were unregarded. Both the 
Sovereign and the Church, whose special charge is 
the whole nation and not a class or faction, were 
under the control of these oligarchs ; and of a 
Parliamentary Monarchy and a Parliamentary 
Church Coningsby says that ' the first has made 
government detested, and the second religion dis- 

I believed.' 

But this was not all the charge that Young Eng- 
land, as shown in Coningsby, had to bring against 
the Whigs. Their power, ' based upon the plunder 
of the church,' they had devoted to the formation 
of an exclusive constitution. They had, as we have 
seen, succeeded for the most part in the exclusion of 
the mass of the nation from the control of affairs, but 
the Napoleonic wars and the example of the Whigs 

XXX 



INTRODUCTION 



enabled the Tory families to put themselves in 
the same position. From early in the nineteenth 
century the Tories had obtained the control of 
affairs, and had retained the exclusive constitution 
which the Whigs had formed. For the Whigs to 
recover power appeared difficult; for them to retain 
it permanently, as they hoped to do, seemed im- 
possible. In 1 8 19, says Disraeli, the Whigs ought 
in the natural course to have obtained power, pre- 
sumably owing to the unpopularity of the Tory 
Ministry of Lord Liverpool as shown by the riots in 
Manchester and elsewhere. The power, however, of 
the Tory families had grown too strong for the 
Whigs to oust them, and the Whigs became Parlia- 
mentary Reformers. They saw that without the 
votes of those who disliked Tory rule, they would 
be unable to obtain and hold power ; they deter- 
mined that these classes should have votes. After 
thirteen years' toil they were successful, and the 
Reform Bill passed both Houses of Parliament. And 
v/hat was the result ? A democracy, whose political 
and religious education had been neglected for a 
century, was called upon to govern. The power of 
the House of Lords was for ever broken and made 
subservient to that of the House of Commons through 
the method in which the bill was passed. The Whigs 
were returned to Parliament with an enormous 
majority. But what were the principles upon which 
the Whigs proposed to govern the country ? In the 
old days they had been clear enough. The Whigs 
had worked for and supported a Venetian Consti- 
tution ; but now they had appealed to the democracy 
in order to establish them in power as an aristocracy. 
Nor had they been consistent in their democratic 
reforms, for if the masses were to have the franchise at 



INTRODUCTION 



all, what was the meaning of the ten pound limitation ? 
The principle of the Reform Bill was universal 
suffrage; the effect of the limitation of this principle 
was Chartism ; for men who have once tasted 
political power, are not to be satisfied with crumbs 
of it. The Radical position since the Reform Bill 
was logical, the Whig position illogical. 

For two years however, they had the distribution 
of patronage before they fell, and the character of 
the party was finally demoralised thereby. For a 
few months their place was taken by the Tories, but 
again in 1835 ^^^ ^^37' "^^^^ ever-decreasing num- 
bers and morale, they clung to power. At length, in 
1841, the democratic aristocrats fell from power, and 
the Tories had to face the difficulties which their 
opponents' lack of principle had caused. 

Meanwhile what of the Tories ? Had they prin- 
ciples upon which to govern ? Was their banner 
free from stain ? Could they be safely entrusted 
with the solution of the political and social problems 
of the age? They are described as being in 1809 
' a political connection which, having arrogated to 
itself the name of an illustrious historical party, 
pursued a policy which was either founded on no 
principle whatever, or on principles exactly contrary 
to those which had always guided the conduct of 
the great Tory leaders.' This was how the Tory 
party emerged from its long period of impotence 
during the eighteenth century. * This factious 
league,' says Disraeli, 'had shuffled themselves into 
power by clinging to the skirts of a great mini- 
ster, the last of the Tory statesmen, but who, in 
the unparalleled and confounding emergencies of 
his later years, had been forced, unfortunately for 
England, to relinquish Toryism.' The explanation 

xxxii 



INTRODUCTION 



of this saying is to be found in a letter which 
Disraeli wrote to Sir William Harcourt in 1873, 

' I do not at all agree with you in your estimate of 
Pitt's career. It is the first half of it which I select as 
his title deed to be looked upon as a Tory Minister, 
hostility to borough-mongering, economy, French 
Alliance, and commercial treaties, borrowed from the 
admirable negotiations of Utrecht — the latter half 
is pure Whiggism, close Parliaments, War with 
France, national debt and commercial restriction, 
all prompted and inspired by the Arch- Whig 
Trumpeter, Mr Burke.' 

It was Pitt then to whose skirts the Tory faction 
had clung. Lord Liverpool, who in the days of Pitt 
had been known as Lord Hawkesbury, was the 
Arch-Mediocrity, and Castlereagh, Harrowby, West- 
moreland, Melville, Eldon, and others, were the 
other mediocrities of his cabinet, of whom Disraeli 
says ' they rode into power on a springtide of all the 
rampant prejudices and rancorous passions of their 
time. From the King to the boor, their policy was 
a mere pandering to public ignorance. Impudently 
usurping the name of that party of which nationality, 
and therefore universality is the essence, these pseudo- 
Tories made exclusion the principle of their political 
constitution, and restriction the genius of their com- 
mercial code.' 

There is no need to detail the deeds and measures 
of these men, as they appeared to Young England, 
for they are described with sufficient clearness in the 
first chapter of the second book of Coningsby. 
Their feeble foreign policy culminated in the 
Congress of Vienna in 18 14, of which all that 
remains ' is the mediatisation of the petty German 
princes,' described in the second part of Vivian Grey. 

xxxiii 



INTRODUCTION 



Faced with the social problems which succeeded to 
the Napoleonic wars they fell into a panic. ' Like 
all weak men they had recourse to what they called 
strong measures. They determined to put down 
the multitude. They thought they were imitating 
Mr. Pitt, because they mistook disorganisation for 
sedition.' The reference is to the suspension of the 
Habeas Corpus Act, the Act to prevent seditious 
meetings and the ' Sidmouth Circular ' authorising 
magistrates to apprehend persons accused of libellous 
publications in 1817, and similar measures during 
the succeeding few years. At last it became clear 
to all that the country would no longer endure the 
incompetence, ruthlessness, and ignorance of the 
ministers. The Whigs could not, as we have seen, 
dislodge them, but they were compelled to renovate 
themselves. Wellington, Peel, Canning, Huskisson 
replaced at different times the most unpopular and 
inefficient among them, and they gained a new 
lease of life. In 1827 Lord Liverpool, the Arch- 
Mediocrity, was compelled through ill-health to 
resign. The question of his . successor was a vexed 
one. Peel, Canning, Wellington, and Robinson 
(afterwards Lord Goderich) were all possible Prime 
Ministers. Canning was for the short period before 
his death the successful candidate, to be succeeded 
for a few thorny months by Goderich. In 1828 
the Duke of Wellington became Prime Minister, 
and in the same year the followers of Canning, 
including Huskisson, Palmerston, and the future 
Lord Melbourne, resigned their posts. Peel, mean- 
while, had remained severed from these combinations, 
and could not be induced to join any cabinet until 
1830. But by that time even his influence was 
insufficient to stem the rising tide against the 



INTRODUCTION 



Tories, and Earl Grey's Reform Ministry, made up 
of the old Whigs and the followers of Canning, was 
returned to power. 

Such was the history of the Tory party in the 
years which preceded the Reform Bill. Ignorant and 
unprincipled, they could no more command the 
allegiance of Young England than could the 
Whigs. But with the Tamworth Manifesto and 
the accession of Peel to power in 1834, a new 
party was formed. Out of the wreck of the 
Tories, Peel, with some younger men, had formed 
the Conservative party. 

The Whigs in their decay had given birth to a 
party with logical principles. Wrong as Disraeli and 
his friends might think these principles to be, they 
nevertheless recognised and respected them. It might 
have been supposed that the party, to which the Tories 
in their decay gave birth, would also be so endowed ; 
but this, says Disraeli, was not so. ' The Tamworth 
Manifesto of 1 834 was an attempt to construct a party 
without principles ; its basis, therefore, was necessarily 
Latitudinarianism ; and its inevitable consequence has 
been political infidelity.' What, he asks, is the Con- 
servative party going to conserve.? *The perogatives 
of the Crown, provided they are not exercised ; the 
independence of the House of Lords, provided it 
is not asserted ; the ecclesiastical estate, provided it 
is regulated by a commission of laymen. Every- 
thing, in short, as long as it is a phrase and not 
a fact.' In any difficult crisis a Conservative consti- 
tution, unimpassioned, impotent, and paralysed by 
the curse of political infidelity ' will be discovered to 
be a Caput Mortuum.' This was the rebirth of the 
Tory party. This was the result of accepting the 
Reform Bill and rejecting its logical consequences. 

XXXV 



INTRODUCTION 



This was the outcome of Peel's Ecclesiastical 
Commission and abortive attempts at reform. 

When Disraeli entered Parliament in 1837 such 
was the state of parties as he saw it. But among the 
nominal supporters of Peel there were several young 
men, among whom Disraeli himself was prominent, 
who would have put a different complexion on the 
regenerated Tory party. The scene where Coningsby 
informs his grandfather, Lord Monmouth, that he 
cannot support the Conservative party, though no 
person could be more anti-Whig, is symbolical of 
the revolt of Young England in the years from 1837 
to 1 844. They were not a particularly distinguished 
set of young men, nor did their views at first appear 
to many people to be of very much moment. Yet, 
because they had among their number a man of 
genius who finally became their leader, and because 
in an age of political opportunism, they were a body 
which stood for political fidelity, for lofty ideals, and 
for adherence to fixed principles, they were able 
to wreck one party and ultimately to defeat the 
other. 

And who were these young men, and how do they 
appear in Coningsby ? Lord Lamington, the BaiUie 
Cochrane, of Young England days, has given a short 
list of the most distinguished among them. Besides 
Disraeli and himself, he mentions George Augustus 
Frederick Percy Sydney Smythe, who is usually 
abbreviated to George Smythe and who afterwards 
became Lord Strangford. In her memoir of her 
husband. Lady Strangford says of him, that he was 
won to the Young England creed by the romantic 
turn of his mind. * He loved to recall the grandeur 
of the ancient nobility of England and France ; to 
sing the days of chivalry, of Catholic kings and 

xxxvi 



INTRODUCTION 



cavaliers, of the picturesque splendour of ecclesiastical 
subjects . . . and together with his friend, Lord 
John Manners, he dreamed of a powerful aristocracy 
and an alms-giving church, protecting and culti- 
vating the affection of a dependent peasantry.' He 
was the author of Historic Fancies, a work from which 
may be gleaned many of the Young England ideals ; 
he was the man whose lack of weight and of assurance 
made of him the ' splendid failure ' one of his friends 
called him. He might have been a poet, he might 
have been a historian, he might have been a states- 
man. Despite the authority of the contemporary 
key, it is at all events probable that he was the 
original of Coningsby. Lord John Manners too, 
who has since become, in succession to his brother, 
Duke of Rutland, is also mentioned as one 
of the Young England group by Lord Lamington, 
and is represented in Coningsby by Lord Henry 
Sidney. Influenced as he was by the Tractarian 
school, his volume of verse, England's Trust and 
other Poems, expresses the religious views of Young 
England. Unfortunately he was not content with 
being a philanthropist, but aimed at the laureateship 
of a political clique. 

It is tempting to rearrange these characters, and 
to say that George Smythe, the descendant of the 
Sidneys at Penshurst, was the original of Lord Henry 
Sidney, and this indeed, would suit the character 
better. But Lord Henry Sidney's father, the Duke, 
and his home, Beaumanoir, so clearly point to the 
Duke of Rutland and Belvoir Castle, that no 
contemporary could have hesitated in taking him 
for Lord John Manners. The key mentions Lord 
Littleton as the original of Coningsby, by which 
it presumably means George William, fourth Baron 



INTRODUCTION 



Lyttelton, the friend of Gladstone, the organiser 
of night schools and workman's institutes, and the 
authority on colonial and ecclesiastical questions. It 
is possible that Coningsby was intended as his portrait, 
but if so we have no character left for the most 
distinguished member at that time of the group, 
George Smythe. Best of all is it to desert here, as 
in Vivian Grey^ the theory of close and detailed 
portraiture, and to believe, disappointing as it may 
seem, that Disraeli was only aiming for the most 
part at giving the impression of the circle in a few 
leading characters. 

Another name mentioned by Lord Lamington is 
Peter Borthwick, for long editor of the Morning Post, 
and the great advocate of slavery and Convocation. 
Whether Peter Borthwick is to be found among the 
characters in Coningsby is doubtful. At all events 
the key can hardly be right in asserting that he 
is represented by Boots at the Christopher, an under- 
ling who exchanges a few words of chaff and conver- 
sation with the boys at Eton. Beresford Hope, the 
Cambridge friend of George Smythe, and Monckton 
Milnes, the former member of the ' Apostles,' and 
other less distinguished names are included by Lord 
Lamington in his list, but go unrepresented in the 
novel. Lord Lamington himself, or Alexander Dun- 
das Ross Wishart Baillie Cochrane, who came into 
Parliament as a Conservative in 1841, appears in Con- 
ingshy as Sir Charles Buckhurst. But as there were 
members of the Young England party not mentioned 
in Coningsby, so there are individuals who appear in 
Coningsby as well-wishers, and who are not recorded 
elsewhere to have been so. First and foremost 
among these comes Mr. Gladstone, who is represented 
by Oswald Millbank, and with whom at this time 

xxxviii 



INTRODUCTION 



Disraeli would probably have welcomed an alliance. 
Having been Under Secretary for the Colonies in 
Peel's Ministry as far back as 1834, Mr. Gladstone 
was now President of the Board of Trade, though 
restive under the yoke of Conservatism. His 
work on Church and State, his youth, his genius, and 
his enthusiasm for social reform pointed him out 
as an ideal member of the Young England party, and 
perhaps Disraeli was influenced by this in the appre- 
ciative picture he drew of him. So too, the young 
Liberal, Lord Edward Howard, son of the Duke 
of Norfolk, may perhaps have been regarded as a 
suitable man for the ranks of Young England, 
since he was said to be represented in the novel 
as Lord Vere. Eustace Lyle in the novel, the 
Catholic who revives the monastic alms-givings 
among his tenantry, is undoubtedly intended for 
Ambrose Lisle March Phillips de Lisle, whom the 
key abbreviates into Ambrose L. Phillips. De Lisle 
was the holder of Graced ieu Manor in Leicestershire, 
and became a Roman Catholic in 1824. He gave 
away two hundred and thirty acres of land for a 
Cistercian monastery, and became himself a Domini- 
can. These are the only characters in the novel 
who are represented as belonging or likely to belong 
to the Young England party. It was represented in 
the novel, as in reality it was, rather as a nucleus 
of thought than as a numerous and powerful party 
organisation. 

Here then is the body of young men, cut out of 
the Conservative or Tory party, but wilUng, we may 
hazard, to welcome converts from the Whig or 
Radical camps, who unite to educate the Conservative 
party and to fight the Whig. And what is their 
creed ^ Belief in youth, opposition to Whiggery 



INTRODUCTION 



and mistrust of Conservatives we have seen to be 
its first tenets. But it is the principles, the sub- 
stantive creed which needs to be explained. When 
Coningsby, in expounding his views to Millbank, 
has stated that 'the man who enters public life at 
I this epoch has to choose between Political Infidelity 
] and a Destructive Creed,' he proceeds to a more 
' direct statement of Young England views than can 
be found elsewhere. 'The only way,' he says, 'to 
terminate what, in the language of the present day, is 
called Class Legislation, is not to entrust power 

to classes The only power that has no 

class sympathy is the Sovereign.' And he proceeds 
to advocate the restoration to the Sovereign of the 
prerogatives which Parliament had taken from him, 
and the ideal of ' a free monarchy, established on 
fundamental laws, itself the apex of a vast pile of 
municipal and local government, ruling an educated 
people, represented by a free and intellectual Press.' 
No revolt against the power of Parliament is con- 
templated, only people are to be accustomed to the 
idea that the House of Commons, the house of the 
Third Estate, ' is the house of a few ; the Sovereign 
is the sovereign of all.' As for representation, the 
\ Press, he maintains does far more to represent 
the people than the House of Commons, and can 
represent it far better. ' Man was made to adore and 
j to obey,' he says. He must obey his sovereign or 
his sovereign's representative ; he must adore his God. 
A Parliamentary Monarchy ' has made government 
detested'; a Parliamentary Church has made 'religion 
disbelieved.' Fight then against the Parliamentary 
Monarchy and the Parliamentary Church. These are 
the fundamentals of the creed ; its application to indi- 
vidual matters and measures, as well as its details are 

xl 



INTRODUCTION 



better observed in Sybil and Tancred and will be 
explained in the introductions to those volumes. 
We shall there see how in the Young England 
visions, the ancient English nobility are to be the 
body about the throne to support their Sovereign 
and to represent their people; how the order of 
the peasants is considered as important a subject 
as the rights of manufacturers ; how the Church, 
unshackled by Parliamentary control, is to resume 
her position as the educator of the people, the 
fountain of charity, and the teacher of religion. It 
will there be considered how far these ideas were 
purely visionary, and how far they could be or 
have been actually realised. The present volume 
is concerned with the formation and principles of 
parties, and the place of Young England amongst 
them. 

There is one figure in Coningsby^ mysterious and 
detached, which dominates as a kind of deus ex 
machina^ the story. ' Sidonia,' whom we shall meet 
again, ' had exhausted all the sources of human 
knowledge ; . . . . He had lived in all orders 

of society The influence of creeds and 

laws, manners, customs, traditions, in all their 
diversities, had been subjected to his personal 
scrutiny. 

' He brought to the study of this vast aggregate 
of knowledge a penetrative intellect that, matured 
by long meditation, and assisted by the absolute 
freedom from prejudice, which was the compensatory 
possession of man without a country, permitted 
Sidonia to fathom, as it were by intuition, the depth 
of questions apparently the most diflicult and 
profound.' 

He is a Jew whose * religion walled him out from 

xli 



INTRODUCTION 



the pursuits of a citizen.' He is * susceptible of deep 
emotions, but not for individuals/ The original of 
this character is asserted by the key to have been 
Baron A. de Rothschild of Naples. As a matter of 
fact the account of Sidonia's father is in its outlines 
an account of the life of Nathan Meyer Rothschild, 
the man who financed half Europe after the battle 
of Waterloo, established one brother as a banker in 
Paris, and another in Vienna, and became himself 
a naturalised Englishman in 1804. The Sidonia 
of the novels is as easily recognised to be his son 
Lionel Nathan de Rothschild, who at this time was 
about thirty-six years old, and since his father's death 
in 1836, had been head of the banking house in 
England. 

As it may be granted that in its circumstances and 
in its outlines, Rothschild was the original of Sidonia, 
so there is a half-truth in the view of some critics, 
that Disraeli meant to delineate, under a thin veil, 
himself in the character. The early fortunes of the 
Sidonia family in Spain, their migration to Italy, and 
their coming to England were very much those of 
the Disraeli family. In many small points, too, 
Disraeli doubtless hinted at his own circumstances 
and his own views in his description of Sidonia. But 
Sidonia is not a portrait either of Rothschild or of 
Disraeli. He is what Disraeli conceived to be the 
ideal Jew. He represents the best that the Jewish 
character, with its intellectual powers, its unbending 
determination and its idealism, combined with Jewish 
circumstances, could produce. Entirely detached, 
absolutely unprejudiced and completely intellectual, 
with a pleasing personality and an iron constitution, 
the ideal Jew is a power to influence the minds 
of others where he cannot act for himself. He 

xlii 



INTRODUCTION 



it is who inspires Coningsby with the fire of noble 
ambition and arms him with the confidence of a 
belief in himself. He it is who can win an English 
steeplechase, inspire English statesmen, finance 
English adventures, and in the end sway English 
fortunes, though ofiiicially denied a share in English 
public life. Such, he himself describes, is the position 
of Jews throughout Europe. When will men 
appreciate that Christianity was founded by the 
Jews, that Europe obeys Jewish laws, saturates its 
mind in Jewish literature, and is influenced by Jewish 
thought in every one of its great intellectual move- 
ments ? 

Disraeli was at this time forty years old, and the 
ages of his Young England friends ranged from 
twenty-six to forty. Though we cannot, like Mr. 
T. P. O'Connor, write him down as a man no longer 
young, posing as the chief apostle of youth among 
mere boys, still he was the eldest as he was the ablest 
of the group. He must have felt that he was 
preaching the gospel of youth for others more than 
for himself So, too, whatever his sympathies may have 
been, he cannot have been attached in the same 
way to the English Church, the Landed Aristocracy, 
and the Throne, as could Lord John Manners, or 
George Smythe, or the other young Englishmen 
of his group. Disraeli's dream was to approximate 
as near as might be to the intellectual standard 
and standpoint of Sidonia, and to add to this the 
advantage of having completed the Jewish faith by 
adopting Christianity, and of being in consequence 
allowed to take an active part in English public 
affairs. Now, as always, he claimed the divine in- 
spiration of the Jewish character and intellect. This 
force, undiminished and untouched by local bias and 

xliii 



INTRODUCTION 



prejudice, he proposed to devote to the cause of 
Young England ; to the cause, as he and his friends 
conceived it, of political fidelity and of noble ideals ; 
to the cause which was to conquer opportunism and 
self-interest, and to lead the people of England to 
truer views of life, to nobler ideals of prosperity, 
and to a loftier patriotism. 



xliv 



CONINGSBY 

BOOK I 

CHAPTER I 

It was a bright May morning some twelve years 
ago, when a youth of still tender age, for he had 
certainly not entered his teens by more than two 
years, was ushered into the waiting-room of a house 
in the vicinity of St. James's Square, v/hich, though 
with the general appearance of a private residence, 
and that too of no very ambitious character, ex- 
hibited at this period symptoms of being occupied 
for some public purpose. 

The house door was constantly open, and fre- 
quent guests even at this early hour crossed the 
threshold. The hall table was covered with sealed 
letters ; and the hall porter inscribed in a book the 
name of every individual who entered. 

The young gentleman we have mentioned found 
himself in a room which offered few resources for 
his amusement. A. large table amply covered with 
writing materials, and a few chairs were its sole 
furniture, except the grey drugget that covered the 
floor, and a muddy mezzotinto of the Duke of Wel- 
lington that adorned its cold walls. There was not 



CONINGSBY Book I 

even a newspaper ; and the only books were the 
Court Guide and the London Directory. For some 
time, he remained with patient endurance planted 
against the wall, with his feet resting on the rail of 
his chair ; but at length in his shifting posture he 
gave evidence of his restlessness, rose from his seat, 
looked out of the window into a small side court of 
the house surrounded with dead walls, paced the room, 
took up the Court Guide, changed it for the London 
Directory, then wrote his name over several sheets 
of foolscap paper, drew various landscapes and faces 
of his friends ; and then, splitting up a pen or two, 
delivered himself of a yawn, which seemed the 
climax of his weariness. 

And yet the youth's appearance did not betoken a 
character that, if the opportunity had offered, could 
not have found amusement and even instruction. 
His countenance, radiant with health and the lustre 
of innocence, was at the same time thoughtful and 
resolute. The expression of his deep blue eye was 
serious. Without extreme regularity of features, the 
face was one that would never have passed unob- 
served. His short upper lip indicated a good breed ; 
and his chestnut curls clustered over his open brow, 
while his shirt collar thrown over his shoulders was 
unrestrained by handkerchief or ribbon. Add to 
this, a limber and graceful figure, which the jacket 
of his boyish dress exhibited to great advantage. 

Just as the youth, mounted on a chair, was adjust- 
ing the portrait of the Duke which he had observed 
to be awry, the gentleman for whom he had been all 
this time waiting entered the room. 

' Floreat Etona ! ' hastily exclaimed the gentleman 
in a sharp voice, * you are setting the Duke to rights. 
I have left you a long time a prisoner ; but I found 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

them so busy here, that I myself made my escape 
with difficulty.' 

He who uttered these words was a man of middle 
size and age, originally in all probability of a spare 
habit, but now a little inclined to corpulency. Bald- 
ness perhaps contributed to the spiritual expression 
of a brow, which was however essentially intellectual, 
and gave some character of openness to a counte- 
nance which, though not ill-favoured, was unhappily 
stamped by a sinister character that was not to be 
mistaken. His manner was easy, but rather auda- 
cious than well-bred. Indeed, while a visage which 
might otherwise be described as handsome was spoilt 
by a dishonest glance, so a demeanour that was by 
no means deficient in self-possession and facility, was 
tainted by an innate vulgarity, which in the long 
run, though seldom, yet surely, developed itself. 

The youth had jumped off his chair on the 
entrance of the gentleman, and then taking up his 
hat, said : 

* Shall we go to grand-papa now, sir ? ' 

* By all means, my dear boy,' said the gentleman, 
putting his arm within that of the youth ; and they 
were just on the point of leaving the waiting-room, 
when the door was suddenly thrown open and two 
individuals, in a state of very great excitement, 
rushed into the apartment. 

* Rigby — Rigby ! ' they both exclaimed at the same 
moment. ' By G — they're out.' 

' Who told you ? ' 

* The best authority ; one of themselves.' 

* Who— who ? ' 

* Paul Evelyn ; I met him as I passed Brookes', 
and he told me that Lord Grey had resigned, and 
the King had accepted his resignation.' 

3 



CONINGSBY Book I 

But Mr. Rigby, who, though very fond of news 
and much interested in the present, was extremely 
jealous of any one giving him information, was 
sceptical. He declared that Paul Evelyn was always 
wrong ; that it was morally impossible that Paul 
Evelyn could ever be right ; that he knew, from the 
highest authority, that Lord Grey had been twice 
yesterday with the King ; that on the last visit 
nothing was settled ; that if he had been at the palace 
again to-day, he could not have been there before 
twelve o'clock ; that it was only now one quarter to 
one ; that Lord Grey would have called his colleagues 
together on his return ; that at least an hour must 
have elapsed before anything could possibly have 
transpired. Then he compared and criticised the 
dates of every rumoured incident of the last twenty- 
four hours ; (and nobody was stronger in dates than 
Mr. Rigby) ; counted even the number of stairs 
which the minister had to ascend and descend in his 
visit to the palace, and the time their mountings and 
dismountings must have absorbed, (detail was Mr. 
Rigby's forte) ; and finally, what with his dates, his 
private information, his knowledge of palace localities, 
his contempt for Paul Evelyn, and his confidence in 
himself, he succeeded in persuading his downcast 
and disheartened friends, that their comfortable in- 
telligence had not the slightest foundation. 

They all left the room together ; they were in the 
hall ; the gentlemen who brought the news looking 
somewhat depressed but Mr. Rigby gay even amid 
the prostration of his party, from the consciousness 
that he had most critically demolished a piece of 
political gossip, and conveyed a certain degree of 
mortification to a couple of his companions ; when 
a travelling carriage and four with a ducal coronet 

4 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

drove up to the house. The door was thrown open, 
the steps dashed down, an3^^outhfu]^jn^We sprang_^ 
from his chariot into the hallT 
"^TjooH morniiigrRigby^'^said the Duke. 

* I see your Grace well, I am sure,' said Mr. 
Rigby, with a very softened manner. 

' You have heard the news, gentlemen ? ' he con- 
tinued. 

' What news ? Yes — no — that is to say — Mr. 
Rigby thinks — ' 

' You know, of course, that Lord Lyndhurst is 
with the King ? ' 

' It is impossible,' said Mr. Rigby. 

' I don't think I can be mistaken,' said the Duke 
smiling. 

* I will show your Grace that it is impossible,' said 
Mr. Rigby. ' Lord Lyndhurst slept at Wimbledon. 
Lord Grey could not have seen the King until twelve 
o'clock ; it is now Hvq minutes to one. It is impos- 
sible, therefore, that any message from the King 
could have reached Lord Lyndhurst in time for his 
Lordship to be at the palace at this moment.' 

' But my authority is a very high one,' said the 
Duke. 

' Authority is a phrase,' said Mr. Rigby ; ' we 
must look to time and place, dates and locaHties, to 
discover the truth.' 

' Your Grace was saying that your authority — ' 
ventured to observe Mr. Tadpole, emboldened by 
the presence of a duke, his patron, to struggle against 
the despotism of a Rigby, his tyrant. 

* Was the highest,' rejoined the Duke smiling ; 
' for it was Lord Lyndhurst himself. I came up 
from Nuneham this morning, passed his Lordship's 
house in Hyde Park Place as he was getting into his 

5 



CONINGSBY Book I 

carriage in full dress, stopped my own, and learned 
in a breath, that the Whigs were out, and that the 
King had sent for the Chief Baron. So I came on 
here at once.' 

* I always thought the country was sound at 
bottom,' exclaimed Mr. Taper, who, under the old 
system, had sneaked into the Treasury Board. 

r "Tadpole and Taper were great friends. Neither 
I of them ever despaired of the Commonwealth. 
I Even if the Reform Bill were passed. Taper was 
^convinced that the Whigs would never prove men of 
business ; and when his friends confessed among 
themselves that a Tory Government was for the 
future impossible, Taper would remark in a con- 
fidential whisper, that for his part he believed before 
the year was over, the Whigs would be turned out 
by the clerks. 

' There is no doubt that there is considerable re- 
action,' said Mr. Tadpole. ' The infamous conduct 
of the Whigs in the Amersham case, has opened the 
public mind more than anything.' 

* Aldborough was worse,' said Mr. Taper. 

' Terrible ! ' said Tadpole. ' They said there was 
no use discussing the Reform Bill in our house. I 
believe Rigby's great speech on Aldborough has 
done more towards the re-action than all the 
violence of all the political Unions together.' 

' Let us hope for the best,' said the Duke mildly. 
* 'Tis a bold step on the part of the Sovereign, and I 
am free to say I could have wished it postponed ; 
but we must support the King hke men. What 
say you, Rigby ? You are silent.' 

' I am thinking what an unfortunate circumstance 
it was for the Sovereign, the country, and the party, 
that I did not break^st with Lord Lyndhurst this 

6 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

morning, as I was nearly doing, instead of going 
down to Eton.' 

* To Eton, and why to Eton ? ' 

* For the sake of my young friend here ; Lord 
Monmout h's grandson. By the bye, you are kins- 
men. Letinepresent to your Grace — Mr. 

CONINGSBY.' 

CHAPTER II 

The political agitation which for a year and a half had 
shaken England to its centre, received if possible an 
increase to its intensity and virulence, when it was 
known in the early part of the month of May, 1832, 
that the Prime Minister had tendered his resignation 
to the King, which resignation had been graciously 
accepted. 

The amendment carried by the Opposition in the 
House of Lords on the evening of the 7 th of May, 
that the enfranchising clauses of the Reform Bill 
should be considered before entering into the ques- . 
tion of disfranchisement, was the immediate cause of 
this startling event. The Lords had previously con- 
sented to the second reading of the Bill with the 
view of preventing that large increase of their num- 
bers with which they had been long menaced ; rather 
indeed by mysterious rumours than by any official 
declaration ; but nevertheless in a manner which had 
carried conviction to no inconsiderable portion of the 
Opposition that the threat was not without founda- 
tion. 

During the progress of the Bill through the 
Lower House, the journals which were looked 
upon as the organs of the ministry, had announced 
with unhesitating confidence, that Lord Grey was 
armed with what was then called a carte blanche to 



CONINGSBY Book I 

I create any number of peers necessary to insure its 
success. Nor were public journalists under the 
control of the ministry, and whose statements were 
never contradicted, the sole authorities for this pre- 
vailing belief. 

Members of the House of Commons, who were 
strong supporters of the cabinet, though not con- 
nected with it by any official tie, had unequivocally 
stated in their places that the Sovereign had not 
resisted the advice of his counsellors to create peers, 
if such creation were required to carry into effect 
what was then styled * the great national measure.' 
In more than one instance, ministers had been 
warned, that, if they did not exercise that power 
with prompt energy, they might deserve impeach- 
ment. And these intimations and announcements 
had been made in the presence of leading members 
of the government, and had received from them at 
least the sanction of their silence. 

It did not subsequently appear that the Reform 
ministers had been invested with any such power ; 
but a conviction of the reverse fostered by these cir- 
cumstances had successfully acted upon the nervous 
temperament, or the statesman-like prudence, of a 
certain section of the peers, who consequently hesi- 
tated in their course ; were known as being no 
longer inclined to pursue their policy of the preced- 
ing session, and who had thus obtained a title at 
that moment rife in everybody's mouth — the title 

of 'THE WaVERERS.' 

Notwithstanding therefore the opposition of the 
Duke of Wellington and of Lord Lyndhurst, the 
Waverers carried the second reading of the Reform 
Bill ; and then scared at the consequences of their 
own headstrong timidity, they went in a fright to 

8 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

the Duke and his able adviser to extricate them 
from the inevitable result of their own conduct. 
The ultimate device of these distracted councils, 
where daring and poltroonery, principle and ex- 
pediency, public spirit and private intrigue, all threw 
an ingredient in the turbulent spell ; was the cele- 
brated and successful amendment to which we have 
referred. 

But the Whig ministers, who, whatever may have 
been their faults, were at least men of intellect and 
courage, were not to be beaten by * the Waverers.' 
They might have made terms with an audacious 
foe ; they trampled on a hesitating opponent. Lord 
Grey hastened to the palace. 

Before the result of this appeal to the Sovereign 
was known, for its effects were not immediate, on 
the second morning after the vote in the House of 
Lords, Mr. Rigby had made that visit to Eton 
which had summoned very unexpectedly the youth- 
ful Coningsby to Lon don^^ He was the oxphaji^hi^^ 

-Cj^__Z9^-i£^^^ ^^ ^^^ ^^^ ^^^^^ ^^ ^^^ Marquis of 
Monmouth. It was a family famous for itsjiatreds."' 
TRe^eTdesF son hated his"HtHeFf~ah3, it was said7 
in spite, had married a lady to whom that father 
was attached, and with whom Lord Monmouth then 
meditated a second alliance. This eldest son lived 
at Naples, and had several children, but maintained 
no connexion either with his parents or his native 
country. On the other hand. Lord Monmouth 
hated his younger son, who had married against 
his consent a woman to whom that son was devoted. 
A system of domestic persecution, sustained by the 
hand of a master, had eventually broken up the health 
of its victim, who died of a fever in a foreign country, 
where he had sought some refuge from his creditors. 

9 



CONINGSBY Book I 

His widow returned to England with her child ; 
and, not having a relation, and scarcely an acquaint- 
ance in the world, made an appeal to her husband's 
father, the wealthiest noble in England, and a man 
who was often prodigal, and occasionally generous. 
After some time and more trouble, after urgent and 
repeated, and what would have seemed heart-rend- 
ing, solicitations, the solicitor of Lord Monmouth 
called upon the widow of his client's son, and 
informed her of his Lordship's decision. Provided 
she gave up her child and permanently resided in 
one of the remotest counties, he was authorised to 
make her in four quarterly payments, the yearly 
allowance of three hundred pounds, that being the 
income that Lord Monmouth, who was the shrewdest 
accountant in the country, had calculated a lone 
woman might very decently exist upon in a small 
market town in the county of Westmoreland. 

Desperate necessity, the sense of her own forlorn- 
ness, the utter impossibility to struggle with an 
omnipotent foe, who, her husband had taught her, 
was above all scruples, prejudices and fears, and 
who though he respected law, despised opinion, 
made the victim yield. But her sufferings were 
not long ; the separation from her child, the bleak 
clime, the strange faces around her, sharp memory, 
and the dull routine of an unimpassioned life, all 
combined to wear out a constitution originally frail, 
and since shattered by many sorrows. Mrs. Con- 
ingsby died the same day that her father-in-law 
was made a Marquess. He deserved his honours. 
The four votes he had inherited in the House of 
Commons had been increased by his intense volition 
and unsparing means to ten ; and the very day he 
was raised to his Marquisate, he commenced sapping 

lO 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

fresh corporations, and was workin g^ for the straw^ 
hejT Tj^ ] ^af. His honours were proclaimed in the 
London Gazette, and her decease was not even 
noticed in the County Chronicle; but the altars of 
Nemesis are beneath every outraged roof, and the 
death of this unhappy lady, apparently without an 
earthly friend or an earthly hope, desolate and deserted, 
and dying in obscure poverty, was not forgotten. 

Coningsby was not more than nine years of age 
when he lost his last parent ; and he had then 
been separated from her for nearly three years. 
But he remembered the sweetness of his nursery 
days. His mother too had written to him very 
frequently since he quitted her, and her fond ex- 
pressions had cherished the tenderness of his heart. 
He wept very bitterly when his schoolmaster broke 
to him the news of his mother's death. True it 
was, they had been long parted, and their prospect 
of again meeting was vague and dim ; but his 
mother seemed to him his only link to human 
society. It was something to have a mother, even 
if he never saw her. Other boys went to see their 
mothers ; he at least could talk of his. Now he 
was alone. tlis__grandfather was to him only a 
name. Eord^'Monmouth resided almost constantly 
aFfoad, and during his rare visits to England had 
found no time or inclination to see the orphan with 
whom he felt no sympathy. Even the death of 
the boy's mother, and the consequent arrangements, 
were notified to his master by a stranger. The letter 
which brought the sad intelligence was from Mr. 
Rigby. It was the first time that name had been 
known to Coningsby. 

Mr. Rigby was a member for one of Lord 
Monmouth's boroughs. He was the manager of 

II 



CONINGSBY Book I 

Lord Monmouth's parliamentary influence, and the 
auditor of his vast estates. He was more ; he was 
Lord Monmouth's companion when in England, 
his correspondent when abroad — hardly his coun- 
sellor, for Lord Monmouth never required advice ; 
but Mr. Rigby could instruct him in matters of 
detail, which Mr. Rigby made amusing. Rigby was 
not a professional man ; indeed, his origin, educa- 
tion, early pursuits, and studies, were equally 
obscure ; but he had contrived in good time to 
squeeze himself into Parliament, by means which 
no one could ever comprehend, and then set up to 
be a perfect man of business. The world took him 
at his word, for he was bold, acute, and voluble ; 
with no thought, but a good deal of de^^ltory 
information ; and though destitute of all imagination 
and noble sentiment, was blessed with a vigorous, 
mendacious fancy, fruitful in small expedients, and 
never happier than when devising shifts for great 
men's scrapes. 

They say that all of us have one chance in this 
life, and so it was with Rigby. After a struggle 
of many years, after a long series of the usual 
alternatives of small successes and small failures, 
after a few clcverish speeches and a good many 
clevcrish pamphlets, with a considerable reputation 
indeed for pasquinades, most of which he never 
wrote, and articles in reviews to which it was 
whispered he had contributed, Rigby, who had 
already intrigued himself into a subordinate office, 
met with Lord Monmouth. 

He was just the animal that Lord Monmouth 
wanted, for Lord Monmouth always looked upon 
human nature with the callous eye of a jockey. He 
surveyed Rigby, and he determined to buy him. 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

He bought him ; with his clear head, his indefatig- 
able industry, his audacious tongue, and his ready 
and unscrupulous pen ; with all his dates, all his 
lampoons ; all his private memoirs, and all his 
political intrigues. It was a good purchase. Rigby 
became a great personage, and Lord Monmouth's 
man. 

Mr. Rigby, who liked to be doing a great many 
things at the same time, and to astonish the Tadpoles 
and the Tapers with his energetic versatility, deter- 
mined to superintend the education of Coningsby. 
It was a relation which identified him with the noble 
house of his pupil, or properly speaking, his charge : 
for Mr. Rigby affected rather the graceful dignity of 
the governor than the duties of a tutor. The boy 
was recalled from his homely, rural school, where 
he had been well grounded by a hard-working 
curate, and affectionately tended by the curate's 
unsophisticated wife. He was sent to a fashionable 
school preparatory to Eton, where he found about 
two hundred youths of noble families and connexions 
lodged in a magnificent villa, that had once been 
the retreat of a minister, superintended by a syco- 
phantic Doctor of Divinity, already well beneficed, 
and not despairing of a bishopric by favouring the 
children of great nobles. The Doctor's lady clothed 
in cashmeres, sometimes inquired after their health, 
and occasionally received a report as to their linen. 

Mr. Rigby had a classical retreat, not distant from 
this establishment, which he esteemed a Tusculum. 
There, surrounded by his busts and books, he wrote 
his lampoons and articles ; massacred a she liberal, 
(it was thought that no one could lash a woman like 
Rigby) cut up a rising genius whose politics were 
different from his own, or scarified some unhappy 

13 



CONINGSBY Book I 

wretch who had brought his claims before parliament, 
proving by garbled extracts from official correspon- 
dence that no one could refer to, that the malcontent, 
instead of being a victim, was on the contrary a 
defaulter. Tadpole and Taper would back Rigby 
for a ' slashing reply ' against the field. Here too 
at the end of a busy week, he found it occasionally 
convenient to entertain a clever friend or two of 
equivocal reputation, with whom he had become 
acquainted in former days of equal brotherhood. No 
one was more faithful to his early friends than Mr. 
Rigby ; particularly if they could write a squib. 

It was in this refined retirement that Mr. Rigby 
found time enough, snatched from the toils of official 
life and parliamentary struggles, to compose a letter 
on the study of History, addressed to Coningsby. 
The style was as much like that of Lord Bolingbroke 
as if it had been written by the authors of the ' Re- 
jected Addresses,' and it began, ' My dear young 
friend.' This polished composition, so full of good 
feeling and comprehensive views, and all in the best 
taste, was not published. It was only privately 
printed and a few thousand copies were distributed 
among select personages as an especial favour and 
mark of high consideration. Each copy given away 
seemed to Rigby like a certificate of character, a pro- 
perty which like all men of dubious repute he 
thoroughly appreciated. Rigby intrigued very 
much that the headmaster of Eton should adopt 
his discourse as a class book. For this purpose he 
dined with the Doctor ; told him several anecdotes 
of the King, which intimated personal influence at 
Windsor ; but the headmaster was immovable; and 
so Mr. Rigby was obliged to be content by his Letter 
on History being canonized as a classic in the Pre- 

14 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

paratory Seminary, where the individual to whom it 
was addressed was a scholar. 

This change in the life of Coningsby contributed 
to his happiness. The various characters, which a 
large school exhibited, interested a young mind whose 
active energies were beginning to stir. His previous 
acquirements made his studies light ; and he was 
fond of sports in which he was qualified to excel. 
He did not particularly like Mr. Rigby. There was 
something jarring and grating in that gentleman's 
voice and modes from which the chords of the young 
heart shrank. He was not tender ; though perhaps 
he wished it, scarcely kind; but he was good- 
natured, at least to children. However, this 
connexion was on the whole a very agreeable one 
for Coningsby. He seemed suddenly to have 
friends ; he never passed his holidays again at 
school. Mr. Rigby was so clever that he con- 
trived always to quarter Coningsby on the father 
of one of his school-fellows, for Mr. Rigby knew all 
his school-fellows and all their fathers. Mr. Rigby 
also called to see him, not unfrequently ; would give 
him a dinner at the Star and Garter, or even have 
him up to town for a week to Whitehall. Compared 
with his former forlorn existence, these were happy 
days when he was placed under the gallery as a mem- 
ber's son, or went to the play with the butler ! 

When Coningsby had attained his twelfth year, an 
order was received from Lord Monmouth who was 
at Rome, that he should go at once to Eton. This 
was the first great epoch of his life. There never was 
a youth who entered into that wonderful little world 
with more eager zest than Coningsby. Nor was it 
marvellous. 

That delicious plain, studded with every creation 

15 






CONINGSBY Book I 

of graceful culture ; hamlet and hall, and grange ; 
garden and grove, and park ; that castle-palace, grey 
with glorious ages ; those antique spires hoar with 
faith and wisdom, the chapel and the college ; that 
river winding through the shady meads ; the sunny 
glade and the solemn avenue ; the room in the 
Dame's house where we first order our own break- 
fast and first feel we are free ; the stirring multitude, 
the energetic groups, the individual mind that leads, 
conquers, controls ; the emulation and the affection ; 
the noble strife and the tender sentiment ; the daring 
exploit and the dashing scrape ; the passion that 
pervades our life, and breathes in everything, from 
the aspiring study to the inspiring sport — oh ! what 
hereafter can spur the brain and touch the heart 
like this ; can give us a world so deeply and variously 
V^ interesting ; a life so full of quick and bright excite- 
ment — passed in a scene so fair ! 

CHAPTER III 

Lord Monmouth, who detested popular tumults as 
much as he despised public opinion, had remained 
during the agitating year of 1831 in his luxurious 
retirement in Italy, contenting himself with opposing 
the Reform Bill by proxy. But when his correspon- 
dent, Mr. Rigby, had informed him in the early part 
of the spring of 1832 of the probability of a change 
in the tactics of the Tory party, and that an opinion 
was becoming prevalent among their friends that the 
great scheme must be defeated in detail rather than 
again withstood on principle, his Lordship, who was* 
never wanting in energy, when his own interests 
were concerned, immediately crossed the Alps, and 
travelled rapidly to England. He indulged a hope 

16 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

that the weight of his presence and the influence of 
his strong character, which was at once shrewd and 
courageous, might induce his friends to relinquish 
their half measure, a course to which his nature was 
very repugnant. At all events, if they persisted in 
their intention, and the Bill .went into committee, 
his presence was indispensable, for in that stage 
of a parliamentary proceeding proxies become in- 
effective. 

The councils of Lord Monmouth, though they 
coincided with those of the Duke of Wellington, did 
not prevail with the Waverers. Several of these 
high-minded personages had had their windows 
broken, and they were not of opinion that a man 
who lived at Naples was a competent judge of the 
state of public feeling in England. Besides, the days 
are gone by for Senates to have their beards plucked 
in the Forum.- We live in an age of prudence. 
The leaders of the people, now generally follow. 
The truth is, the peers were in a fright. 'Twas a 
pity ; there is scarcely a less dignified entity than a 
patrician in a panic. 

Among the most intimate companions of Con- 

ingsby at Eton, was Lord H enry S ydney^ liis 

kinsman. Coningsby had frequentT)rpassed his 
tiStuIays of late at Beaumanoir, the seat of the 
Duke, Lord Henry's Father. The Duke sate next 
to Lord Monmouth during the debate on the en- 
franchising question, and to wile away the time, and 
from kindness of disposition spoke, and spoke with 
warmth and favour, of his grandson. The polished 
Lord Monmouth bowed as if he were much gratified 
by this notice of one so dear to him. He had too 
much tact to admit that he had never yet seen his 
grandchild ; but he asked some questions as to his 

B 17 



CONINGSBY Book I 

progress and pursuits, his tastes and habits, which 
intimated the interest of an affectionate relative. 

Nothing, however, was ever lost upon Lord Mon- 
mouth. No one had a more retentive memory, or a 
more observant mind. And the next day, when he 
received Mr. Rlgby at his morning levee, (Lord 
Monmouth performed this ceremony in the high 
style of the old court, and welcomed his visitors in 
bed), he said with imperturbable calmness, and as if 
he had been talking of trying a new horse, ' Rigby, 
I should like to see the boy at Eton.' 

There might be some objection to grant leave 
to Coningsby at this moment; but it was a rule 
with Mr. Rigby never to make difficulties, or at 
least to persuade his patron, that he, and he only, 
could remove them. He immediately undertook 
that the boy should be forthcoming, and, notwith- 
standing the excitement of the moment, he went off 
next morning to fetch him. 

They arrived in town rather early, and Rigby 
wishing to know how affairs were going on, ordered 
the servant to drive immediately to the head-quarters 
of the party ; where a permanent committee watched 
every phasis of the impending revolution ; and where 
every member of the opposition of note and trust was 
instantly admitted to receive or to impart intelligence. 

It was certainly not without emotion, that Con- 
ingsby contemplated his first interview with his 
grandfather. AH his experience of the ties of 
relationship, however limited, were full of tender- 
ness and rapture. His memory often dwelt on his 
mother's sweet embrace ; and ever and anon a fitful 
phantom of some past passage of domestic love 
haunted his gushing heart. The image of his father 
was less fresh in his mind ; Imt still it was associated 

i8 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

with a vague sentiment of kindness and joy ; and the 
allusions to Mr. Coningsby in his mother^s letters 
had cherished these impressions. To notice lesser 
sources of influence in his estimate of the domestic 
tie, he had witnessed under the roof of Beaumanoir, 
the existence of a family bound together by the most 
beautiful affections. He could not forget how Henry 
Sydney was embraced by his sisters when he returned 
home ; what frank and fraternal love existed between 
his cousin and his elder brother ; how atlcctionately 
the kind Duke had welcomed his son once more to 
the house where they had both been born ; and the 
dim eyes and saddened brows, and tones of tender- 
ness which rather looked than said farewell, when 
they went back to Eton. 

And these rapturous meetings and these mournful 
adieus were occasioned only by a separation at the 
most of a few months, softened by constant corre- 
spondence, and the communication of mutual 
sympathy. But Coningsby was to meet a relation, 
his nearest, almost his only, relation for the first 
time ; the relation too to whom he owed main- 
tenance, education — it might be said, existence. It 
was a great incident for a great drama; something 
tragical in the depth and stir of its emotions. Even 
the imagination of the boy could not be insensible to 
its materials; and Coningsby was picturing to him- 
self a beneficent and venerable gentleman pressing to 
his breast an agitated youth, when his reverie was 
broken by the carriage stopping before the gates of 
Monmouth House. 

The gates were opened by a gigantic Swiss, and 
the carriage rolled into a huge court yard. At its 
end, Coningsby beheld a Palladian palace with wings 
and colonnades encircling the court. 

i9 



CONINGSBY Book I 

A double flight of steps led into a circular and 
marble hall adorned with colossal busts of the Cassars ; 
the staircase in freso by Sir James Thornhill, breathed 
with the loves and wars of Gods and heroes. It led 
into a vestibule painted in arabesque, hung with 
Venetian girandoles, and looking into gardens. Open- 
ing a door in this chamber, and proceeding some 
little way down a corridor, Mr Rigby and his com- 
panion arrived at the base of a private staircase. As- 
cending a few steps, they reached a landing place 
hung with tapestry. Drawing this aside, Mr Rigby 
opened a door and ushered Coningsby through an 
ante-chamber into a small saloon of beautiful pro- 
portion, and furnished in a brilliant and delicate 
taste. 

* You will find more to amuse you here than 
where we were before,' said Mr Rigby, ' and I 
shall not be nearly so long absent.' So saying, he 
entered into an inner apartment. 

The walls of the saloon, which were covered with 
light blue satin, held in silver pannels portraits of 
beautiful women painted by Boucher. Couches and 
easy chairs of every shape invited in every quarter to 
luxurious repose, while amusement was afforded by 
tables covered with caricatures, French novels, and 
endless miniatures of foreign dancers, princesses, and 
Sovereigns. 

But Coningsby was so impressed with the impend- 
ing interview with his grandfather, that he neither 
sought nor required diversion. Now that the crisis 
was at hand, he felt agitated and nervous ; and 
wished that he was again at Eton. The suspense 
was sickening, yet he dreaded still more the sum- 
mons. He was not long alone ; the door opened — • 
he started — grew pale — he thought it was his grand- 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 



father ; it was not even Mr Rigby. It was Lord 
Monmouth's valet. 

" Monsieur Konigby ? " 

" My name is Coningsby," said the boy. 

" Milor is ready to receive you," said the valet. 

Coningsby sprang forward with that desperation 
which the scaffold requires. His face was pale ; his 
hand was moist ; his heart beat with tumult. He had 
occasionally been summoned by Dr. Keate ; that too 
was awful work, but compared with the present, a 
morning visit. Music, artillery, the roar of cannon, 
and the blare of trumpets, may urge a man on to a 
forlorn hope ; ambition, one's constituents, the hell 
of previous failure, may prevail on us to do a more 
desperate thing — speak in the House of Commons ; 
but there are some situations in life, such for 
instance as entering the room of a dentist, when the 
prostration of the nervous system is absolute. 

The moment had at length arrived, when the 
desolate was to find a benefactor, the forlorn a friend, 
the orphan a parent ; when the youth, after a child- 
hood of adversity, was to be formally received into 
the bosom of the noble house from which he had 
been so long estranged, and at length to assume that 
social position to which his lineage entitled him. 
Manliness might support, affection might soothe, the 
happy anguish of such a meeting ; but it was un- 
doubtedly one of those situations which stir up the 
deep fountains of our natures, and before which the 
conventional proprieties of our ordinary manners 
instantaneously vanish. 

Coningsby with an uncertain step followed his 
guide through a bed-chamber, the sumptuousness of 
which he could not notice, into the dressing-room of 
Lord Monmouth. Mr Rigby, facing Coningsby as 

21 



CONINGSBY Book I 

he entered, was leaning over the back of a large 
chair, from which as Coningsby was announced by 
the valet, the Lord of the house slowly rose, for he 
was suffering slightly from the gout, and his left 
hand rested on an ivory stick. Lord Monmouth 
was in height above the middle size, but somewhat 
portly and corpulent. His countenance was strongly 
marked ; sagacity on the brow, sensuality in the 
mouth and jaw. His head was bald, but there were 
remains of the rich brown locks on which he once 
prided himself. His large deep blue eye, madid and 
yet piercing, showed that the secretions of his brain 
were apportioned, half to voluptuousness, half to 
common sense. But his general mien was truly 
grand jfiilj o f a nat iiral^ohiHtyj of which no one 
was 'more sensiBIe.' Lord Monmouth was not in 
dishabille ; on the contrary, his costume was exact, 
and even careful. Rising as we have mentioned 
when his grandson entered, and leaning with his left 
hand on his ivory cane, he made Coningsby such a 
bow as Louis Quatorze might have bestowed on the 
ambassador of the United Provinces. Then extend- 
ing his right hand, which the boy tremblingly 
touched, Lord Monmouth said : 

* How do you like Eton ? ' 

This contrast to the reception which he had 
imagined, hoped, feared, paralysed the reviving 
energies of young Coningsby. He felt stupified ; 
he looked almost aghast. In the chaotic tumult of 
his mind, his memory suddenly seemed to receive 
some miraculous inspiration. Mysterious phrases 
heard in his earliest boyhood, unnoticed then, long 
since forgotten, rose to his ear. Who was this 
grandfather, seen not before, seen now for the first 
time ? Where was the intervening link of blood 

22 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

between him and this superb and icy being ? The 
boy sank into the chair which had been placed for 
him, and leaning on the table burst into tears. 

Here was a business ! If there was one thing 
which would have made Lord Monmouth travel 
from London to Naples at four and twenty hours* 
notice, it was to avoid a scene. He hated scenes — 
he hated feelings. He saw instantly the mistake he 
had made in sending for his grandchild. He was 
afraid that Coningsby was tender-hearted like his 
father. Another tender-hearted Coningsby ! Un- 
fortunate family ! Degenerate race ! He decided 
in his mind that Coningsby must be provided for in 
the Church, and looked at Mr. Rigby, whose 
principal business it always was to disembarrass his 
patron from the disagreeable. 

Mr. Rigby instantly came forward and adroitly 
led the boy into the adjoining apartment, Lord 
Monmouth's bed-chamber, closing the door of the 
dressing-room behind him. 

' My dear young friend,' said Mr. Rigby, ' what 
is all this ?' 

A sob the only answer. 

'What can be the matter r said Mr. Rigby. 

' I was thinking,' said Coningsby. ' of poor 
mamma ! ' 

' Hush ! ' said Mr. Rigby, ' Lord Monmouth never 
likes to hear of people who are dead ; so you must 
take care never to mention your mother or your 
father.' 

In the meantime Lord Monmouth had decided on 
the fate of Coningsby. The Marquess thought he 
could read characters by a glance, and in general he 
was very successful ; for his natural sagacity had 
been nurtured by great experience. His grandson 

23 



CONINGSBY Book I 



was not to his taste ; amiable, no doubt, but a 
spooney. 

We are too apt to believe that the character of a 
boy is easily read. 'Tis a mystery the most pro- 
found. Mark what blunders parents constantly 
make as to the nature of their own offspring, bred 
too under their eyes, and displaying every hour their 
characteristics. How often in the nursery does the 
genius count as a dunce because he is pensive ; while 
a rattling urchin is invested with almost supernatural 
qualities because his animal spirits make him im- 
pudent and flippant ! The school-boy above all 
others is not the simple being the world imagines. 
In that young bosom are often stirring passions as 
strong as our own, desires not less violent, a volition 
not less supreme. In that young bosom what burn- 
ing love, what intense ambition, what avarice, what 
lust of power ; envy that fiends might emulate, hate 
that man might fear ! 

CHAPTER IV 

* Come,* said Mr. Rigby, when Coningsby was 
somewhat composed, 'come with me, and we will 
see the house.' 

So they descended once more the private staircase, 
and again entered the vestibule. 

* If you had seen these gardens when they were 
illuminated for a fete to George IV,' said Rigby, as 
crossing the chamber he ushered his charge into the 
state-apartments. The splendour and variety of the 
surrounding objects soon distracted the attention of 
the boy, for the first time in the palace of his fathers. 
He traversed saloon after saloon hung with rare 
tapestry and the gorgeous products of foreign looms ; 

24 



J 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

filled with choice pictures and creations of curious 
art ; cabinets that sovereigns might envy, and co- 
lossal vases of malachite presented by Emperors. 
Coningsby alternately gazed up to ceilings glowing 
with colour and with gold, and down upon carpets 
bright with the fancies and vivid with the tints of 
Aubusson and of Axminster. 

' This grandfather of mine is a great prince,' 
thought Coningsby, as musing he stood before a 
portrait in which he recognised the features of the 
being from whom he had so recently and so strangely 
parted. There he stood, Philip Augustus, Marquess 
of Monmouth, in his robes of estate, with his new 
coronet on a table near him, a despatch lying at hand 
that indicated the special mission of high ceremony of 
which he had been the illustrious envoy, and the 
garter beneath his knee. 

' You will have plenty of opportunities to look at 
the pictures,' said Rigby, observing that the boy had 
now quite recovered himself. 'Some luncheon will 
do you no harm after our drive,' and he opened the 
door of another apartment. 

It was a pretty room, adorned with a fine picture 
of the chase : at a round table in the centre sate two 
ladies interested in the meal to which Rigby had 
alluded. 

' Ah, Mr. Rigby ! ' said the eldest, yet young and 
beautiful, and speaking, though with fluency, in a 
foreign accent, ' come and tell me some news. Have 
you seen Milor ? ' and then she threw a scrutinizing 
glance from a dark flashing eye at his companion. 

' Let me present to your Highness,' said Rigby 
with an air of some ceremony, ' Mr. Coningsby.' 

' My dear young friend,' said the Lady, extending 
her white hand with an air of joyous welcome, ' this 

25 



CONINGSBY Book I 

is Lucretia, my daughter. We love you already. 
Lord Monmouth will be so charmed to see you. 
What beautiful eyes he has, Mr. Rigby ! Quite like 
Milor.^ 

The young lady, who was really more youthful 
than Coningsby, but of a form and stature so 
developed, that she appeared almost a woman, 
bowed to the guest with some ceremony, and a 
faint sullen smile, and then proceeded with her 
chicken-pie. 

' You must be so hungry after your drive,' said the 
elder lady, placing Coningsby at her side, and herself 
filling his plate. 

This was true enough ; and while Mr. Rigby and 
the lady talked an infinite deal about things which he 
did not understand, and persons of whom he had 
never heard, our little hero made his jfirst meal in his 
paternal house with no ordinary zest ; and renovated 
by the pasty and a glass of sherry, felt altogether a 
very different being to what he was, when he had 
undergone the terrible interview in which, he began 
to reflect, he had considerably exposed himself. His 
courage revived, his senses rallied, he replied to the 
interrogations of the lady with calmness, but with 
promptness and propriety. It was evident that he 
had made a favourable impression on her Highness, 
for ever and anon she put a truffle or some small 
delicacy in his plate, and insisted upon his taking 
some particular confectionery, because it was a 
favourite of her own. When she rose, she said : 

' In ten minutes the carriage will be at the door ; 
and if you like, my dear young friend, you shall be 
our beau.' 

* There is nothing I should like so much,' said 
Coningsby. 

26. 






Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

* Ah ! ' said the lady with the sweetest smile, ' he is 
frank; 

The ladies bowed and retired ; Mr. Rigby returned 
to the Marquess, and the groom of the chambers led 
Coningsby to his room. 

This lady, so courteous to Coningsby, was the 
Princess Colonna, a Roman dame, the second wife 
of Prince Paul Colonna. The Prince had first 
married when a boy, and into a family not inferior to 
his own. Of this union, in every respect unhappy, 
the Princess Lucretia was the sole offspring. He 
was a man dissolute, and devoted to play ; and cared 
for nothing much but his pleasures and billiards, in 
which latter he was esteemed unrivalled. According 
to some, in a freak of passion, according to others, to 
cancel a gambling debt, he had united himself to his 
present wife, whose origin was obscure ; but with 
whom he contrived to live on terms of apparent 
cordiality, for she was much admired, and made the 
society of her husband sought by those who contri- 
buted to his enjoyment. Among these especially 
figured the Marquess of Monmouth, between whom 
and Prince Colonna the world recognised as existing 
the most intimate and entire friendship, so that his 
Highness and his family were frequent guests under 
the roof of the English nobleman, and now accom- 
panied him on a visit to England. 

CHAPTER V 

In the meantime, while ladies are luncheoning on 
chicken pie, or coursing in whirling britskas, perform- 
ing all the singular ceremonies of a London morning 
in the heart of the season ; making visits where 
nobody is seen, and making purchases which are not 

27 



CONINGSBY Book I 

wanted ; the world is in agitation and uproar. At 
present the world and the confusion are limited to St. 
James's Street and Pall Mall ; but soon the boundaries 
and the tumult will be extended to the intended met- 
ropolitan boroughs ; to-morrow they will spread over 
the manufacturing districts. It is entirely evident, 
that before eight and forty hours have passed, the 
country will be in a state of fearful crisis. And how 
can it be otherwise ? Is it not a truth, that the subtle 
Chief Baron has been closeted one whole hour with 
the King; that shortly after, with thoughtful brow 
and compressed lip, he was marked in his daring 
chariot entering the court-yard of Apsley House. 
Great was the panic at Brookes', wild the hopes of 
Carlton Terrace ; All the gentlemen who expected to 
have been made peers, perceived that the country was 
going to be given over to a rapacious oligarchy. 

In the meantime. Tadpole and Taper, who had 
never quitted for an instant the mysterious head- 
quarters of the late opposition, were full of hopes and 
fears, and asked many questions which they chiefly 
answered themselves. 

' I wonder what Lord Lyndhurst will say to the 
King,' said Taper. 

* He has plenty of pluck,' said Tadpole. 

' 1 almost wish now that Kigby had breakfasted 
with him this morning,' said Taper. 

' If the King be firm, and the country sound,' said 
Tadpole, ' and Lord Monmouth keep his boroughs, 
I should not wonder if Rigby were made a privy 
counsellor.' 

* There is no precedent for an under secretary being 
a privy counsellor,* said Taper. 

* But we live in revolutionary times,' said Tadpole. 

* Gentlemen,' said the groom of the chambers, in 

28 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

a loud voice, entering the room, ' I am desired to 
state that the Duke of Wellington is with the King.' 

'There is a Providence!' exclaimed an agitated 
gentleman, the patent of whose intended peerage 
had not been signed the day that the Duke had 
quitted office in 1830. 

' I always thought the King would be firm,' said 
Mr. Tadpole. 

* I wonder who will have the India Board,' said 
Taper. 

At this moment, three or four gentlemen entered 
the room in a state of great bustle and excitement; 
they were immediately surrounded. 

' Is it true.f^ Quite true; not the slightest doubt. 
Saw him myself. Not at all hissed; certainly not 
hooted. Perhaps a little hissed. One fellow really 
cheered him. Saw him myself. Say what they 
like there /5^ reaction. But Constitution Hill they 
say.^ Well, there was a sort of inclination to a 
row on Constitution Hill; but the Duke quite firm; 
pistols and carriage doors bolted.' 

Such may give a faint idea of the anxious inquiries, 
and the satisfactory replies that were occasioned by 
the entrance of this group. 

' Up guards and at them ! ' exclaimed Tadpole, rub- 
bing his hands in a fit of patriotic enthusiasm. 

Later in the afternoon, about five o'clock, the high 
change of political gossip, when the room was 
crowded, and every one had his rumour, Mr. Rigby 
looked in again to throw his eye over the evening 
papers, and catch in various chit-chat the tone of 
public or party feeling on the ' crisis.' Then it 
was known that the Duke had returned from the 
King, having accepted the. charge of forming an ad- 
ministration. An administration to do what ? Por- 

29 



CONINGSBY Book I 

tentons question ! Were concessions to be made ? 
And if so, what ? Was it altogether impossible, and 
too late, stare super vias antiquas? Questions alto- 
gether above your Tadpoles and your Tapers, whose 
idea of the necessities of the age was that they them- 
selves should be in office. 

Lord Eskdale came up to Mr. Rigby. This peer 
was a noble Croesus, acquainted with all the grada- 
tions of life; a voluptuary who could be a Spartan; 
clear-sighted, unprejudiced, sagacious; the_best judge 
in the worldjof a_hQr^ejpr_ajnan; he was the universal 
referee; a quarrel about a bet or a mistress was 
solved by him in a moment, and in a manner which 
satisfied both parties. He patronised and appreciated 
the fine arts, though a jockey; respected literary 
men, though he only read French novels; and with- 
out any affectation of tastes which he did not possess, 
was looked upon by every singer and dancer in 
Europe, as their natural champion. The secret of 
his strong character and great influence was his self- 
composure, which an earthquake or a Reform Bill 
could not disturb, and which in him was the result 
of temperament and experience. He was an inti- 
mate acquaintance of Lord Monmouth, for they had 
many tastes in common; were both men of consider- 
able, and in some degree similar abilities; and were 
the two greatest proprietors of close boroughs in the 
country. 

'Do you dine at Monmouth House to-day?' in- 
quired Lord Eskdale of Mr. Rigby. 

' Where I hope to meet your Lordship. The 
Whig papers are very subdued,' continued Mr. 
Rigby. 

* Ah ! they have not the cue yet,' said Lord Esk- 
dale. 

30 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

* And what do you think of affairs?' inquired his 
companion. ^p 

' I think the haunds_aretoo hot t^hark off now,^ ^. 
said Lord EskdaJe. " -cf;^J^ 

' There is one combination,' said Rigby, who 
seemed m.editating an attack on Lord Eskdale's 
button. 

' Give us it at dinner,' said Lord Eskdale; who 
knew his man, and made an adroit movement for- 
wards as if he were very anxious to see the Globe 
newspaper. 

In the course of two or three hours these gentlemen 
met again in the green drawing-room of Monmouth 
House. Mr. Rigby was sitting on the sofa by Lord 
Monmouth, detailing in whispers all his gossip of 
the morn : Lord Eskdale murmuring quaint in- 
quiries into the ear of the Princess Lucretia. 
Madame Colonna made remarks alternately to two 
gentlemen, who paid her assiduous court. One of 
these was Mr. Ormsby; the school, the college, and 
the club crony of Lord Monmouth, who had been 
his shadow through life; travelled with him in early 
days, won money with him at play, had been his col- 
league in the House of Commons; and was still one 
of his nominees. Mr. Ormsby was a millionnaire, 
which Lord Monmouth liked. He liked his com- 
panions to be very rich or very poor; to be his 
equals, able to play with him at high stakes, or join 
him in a great speculation; or to be his tools, and to 
amuse and serve him. There was nothing which he 
despised and disliked so nuich as a moderate fortune. 

The other gentleman was of a different class and 
character. Nature had intended Lucian Gay for a 
scholar and a wit; necessity had made him a scribbler 
and a buffoon. He had distinguished himself at the 

31 



CONINGSBY Book I 

University ; but he had no patrimony, nor those 
powers of perseverance which success in any learned 
profession requires. He was good-looking, had 
great animal spirits, and a keen sense of enjoyment, 
and could not drudge. Moreover he had a fine 
voice, and sang his own songs with considerable 
taste; accomplishments which made his fortune in 
society, and completed his ruin. In due time he 
extricated himself from the bench and merged into 
journalism, by means of which he chanced to become 
acquainted with Mr. Rigby. That worthy indi- 
vidual was not slow in detecting the treasure he had 
lighted on — a wit, a ready and happy writer, a joy- 
ous and tractable being, with the education, and still 
the feelings and manners, of a gentleman. Fre- 
quent the Sunday dinners which found Gay a guest at 
Mr. Rigby's villa; numerous the airy pasquinades 
he left behind, and which made the fortune of his 
patron. Flattered by the familiar acquaintance of a 
man of station, and sanguine that he had found the 
link which would sooner or later restore him to the 
polished world that he had forfeited. Gay laboured in 
his vocation with enthusiasm and success. Willingly 
would Rigby have kept his treasure to himself; and 
truly he hoarded it for a long time, but it oozed out. 
Rigby loved the reputation of possessing the com- 
plete art of society. His dinners were celebrated at 
least for their guests. Great intellectual illustrations 
were found there blended with rank and high station. 
Rigby loved to patronize; to play the minister un- 
bending, and seeking relief from the cares of council 
in the society of authors, artists, and men of science. 
He liked Dukes to dine with him and hear him 
scatter his audacious criticisms to Sir Thomas or Sir 
Humphrey. They went away astounded by the 

32 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

powers of their host, who had he not fortunately de- 
voted those powers to their party, must apparently 
have rivalled Vandyke, or discovered the Safety 
lamp. 

Now in these dinners, Lucian Gay who had bril- 
liant conversational powers, and who possessed all 
the resources of boon companionship would be an 
invaluable ally. He was therefore admitted, and 
inspired both by the present enjoyment, and the 
future to which it might lead, his exertions were 
untiring, various, most successful. Rigby's dinners 
became still more celebrated. It however necessarily 
followed that the guests who were charmed by Gay, 
wished Gay also to be their guest. Rigby was very 
jealous of this, but it was inevitable; still by con- 
stant manoeuvre, by intimations of some exercise 
some day or other of substantial patronage in his 
behalf, by a thousand little arts by which he carved 
out work for Gay which prevented him often accept- 
ing invitations to great houses in the country, by 
judicious loans of small sums on Lucian's notes of 
hand and other analogous devices, Rigby contrived 
to keep the wit in a very fair state of bondage and 
dependence. 

One thing Rigby was resolved on : Gay should 
never get into Monmouth House. That was an 
empyrean too high for his wing to soar in. Rigby 
kept that social monopoly distinctively to mark the 
relation that subsisted between them as patron and 
client. It was something to swagger about when 
they were together after their second bottle of claret. 
Rigby kept his resolution for some years which the 
frequent and prolonged absence of the Marquess 
rendered not very difficult. But v/e are the creatures 
of circumstances ; at least the Rigby race particu- 
c 33 



CONINGSBY Book I 

larly. Lord Monmouth returned to England one 
year and wanted to be amused. He wanted a jester; 
a man about him who would make him — not laugh 
for that was impossible, but smile more frequently, 
tell good stories, say good things, and sing now and 
then, especially French songs. Early in life Rigby 
would have attempted all this, though he had neither 
fun, voice, nor ear. But his hold on Lord Mon- 
mouth no longer depended on the mere exercise of 
agreeable qualities, he had become indispensable to 
his Lordship by more serious, if not higher, con- 
siderations. And what with auditing his accounts, 
guarding his boroughs, writing him, when absent, 
gossip by every post, and when in England, deciding 
on every question and arranging every matter, which 
might otherwise have ruffled the sublime repose of 
his patron's existence, Rigby might be excused if 
he shrank a little from the minor part of table wit, 
particularly when we remember all his subterranean 
journalism; his acid squibs, and his malicious para- 
graphs, and, what Tadpole called, his * slashing ' 
articles. 

These * slashing articles ' were, indeed, things 
which hnd they appeared as anonymous pamphlets, 
would have obtained the contemptuous reception, 
which in an intellectual view, no compositions more 
surely deserved : but whispered as the productions 
of one behind the scenes, and appearing in the pages 
of a party review, they were passed off as genuine 
coin, and took in great numbers of the lieges, especi- 
ally in the country. They were written in a style 
apparently modelled on the briefs of those sharp 
attorneys, who weary advocates with their clever 
common place; teasinjr with obvious comment and 
torturing with inevitable inference. The affectation 

34 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

of order in the statement of facts had all the lucid 
method of an adroit pettifogger. They dealt much 
in extracts from newspapers, quotations from the 
Annual Register, parallel passages in forgotten 
speeches, arranged with a formidable array of dates 
rarely accurate. When the writer was of opinion 
he had made a point, you may be sure the hit was in 
italics, that last resource of the Forcible Feebles. He 
handled a particular in chronology as if he were prov- 
ing an alibi at the Criminal Court. The censure was 
coarse without being strong, and vindictive when it 
would have been sarcastic. Now and then there was 
a passage which aimed at a higher flight, and nothing 
can be conceived more unlike genuine feeling, or 
more offensive to pure taste. And yet perhaps the 
most ludicrous characteristic of these factious galli- 
maufreys, was an occasional assumption of the high 
moral and admonitory tone, which when we recurred 
to the general spirit of the discourse and were apt to 
recall the character of the writer, irresistibly reminded 
one of Mrs. Cole and her prayer book. 

To return to Lucian Gay. It was a rule with 
Rigby that no one, if possible, should do anything 
for Lord Monmouth but himself ; and as a jester 
must be found, he was determined that his Lordship 
should have the best in the market, and that he 
should have the credit of fiirnishing the article. As 
a reward, therefore, for many past services and a 
fresh claim to his future exertions, Rigby one day 
broke to Gay that the hour had at leng^th arrived 
when the highest object of reasonable ambition on 
his part, and the fulfilment of one of Rijs^by's long 
cherished and dearest hopes were alike to be realized. 
Gay was to be presented to Lord Monmouth and 
dine at Monmouth House. 

35 



CONINGSBY Book I 

The acquaintance was a successful one ; very 
agreeable to both parties. Gay became an habitual 
guest of Lord Monmouth when his patron was in 
Eno^land; and in his absence, received frequent and 
substantial marks of his kind recollection, for Lord 
Monmouth was generous to those who amused 
him. 

In the meantime, the hour of dinner is at hand. 
Coningsby, who had lost the key of his carpet bag, 
which he finally cut open with a pen-knife that he 
found on his writing table, and the blade of which he 
broke in the operation, only reached the drawing- 
room as the figure of his grandfather, leaning on his 
ivory cane and following his guests, was just visible 
in the distance. He v/as soon overtaken. Perceiv- 
ing Coningsby, Lord Monmouth made him a bow, 
not so formal a one as in the morning, but still a bow, 
and said, * T hope you liked your drive.' 



CHAPTER VI 



"I 



A LITTLE dinner, not more than the Muses, 
all the guests clever, and some pretty, ofi^ers human 
life and human nature under very favourable 
cumstances. In the present instance too, every o: 
was anxious to please, for the host was entirely well 
bred, never selfish in little things, and always contfP 
buted his quota to the general fund of polished 
sociability. 

Although there was really only one thought in 
every male mind present, still, regard for the ladies, 
and some little apprehension of the servants, banished 
politics from discourse during the greater part of 
the dinner, with the occasional exception of som 
rapid and flying allusion which the initiated und ' 

36 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

stood, but which remained a mystery to the rest. 
Nevertheless an old story now and then well told by 
Mr. Ormsby, a new joke now and then well intro- 
duced by Mr. Gay, some dashing assertion by Mr. 
Rigby, which though wrong was startling; this 
agreeable blending of anecdote, jest, and para- 
dox ; kept everything fluent, and produced the 
degree of mild excitation which is desirable. 
Lord Monmouth sometimes summed up with 
an epigrammatic sentence, and turned the con- 
versation by a question, in case it dwelt too 
much on the same topic. Lord Eskdale addressed 
himself principally to the ladies; inquired after their 
morning drive and doings, spoke of new fashions, 
and quoted a letter from Paris. Madame Colonna 
was not witty, but she had that sweet Roman frank- 
ness which is so charming. The presence of a beauti- 
ful woman, natural and good tempered, even if she 
be not a L'Espinasse or a De Stael, is animating. 

Nevertheless, owing probably to the absorbing 
powers of the forbidden subject, there were 
moments when it seemed that a pause was 
impending, and Mr. Ormsby, an old hand, 
seized one of these critical instants to address 
a good - natured question to Coningsby, whose 
acquaintance he had already cultivated by taking 
wine with him. 

* And how do you like Eton .?' asked Mr. Ormsby. 

It was the identical question which had been pre- 
sented to Coningsby in the memorable interview of 
the morning, and which had received no reply; or 
rather ^ had produced on his part a sentimental 
ebullition that had absolutely destined or doomed 
him to the church. 

' L^^^i^ ^^^^ ^^ ^^^ ^^^ fellow who did not like Y 

37 X^ 



\*\ 



CONINGSBY Book I 

Eton,' said Coningsby, briskly, determined this time 
to be very brave. 

* 'Gad I must go down and see the old place,' said 
Mr Ormsby, touched by a pensive reminiscence. 
' One can get a good bed and bottle of port at the 
Christopher, still .^' 

* You had better come and try. Sir,' said Con- 
ingsby. ' If you will come some day and dine with 
me at the Christopher, I will give you such a bottle 
of Champagne as you never tasted yet.' 

The Marquess looked at him, but said nothing. 

'Ah! I liked a dinner at the Christopher,' said 
Mr Ormsby, * after mutton, mutton, mutton every 
day, it was not a bad thing.' 

' We had venison for dinner every week last 
season,' said Coningsby, ' Buckhurst had it sent up 
from his park. But I don't care for dinner. Break- 
fast is my lounge.' 

'Ah! those little rolls and pats of butter!' said 
Mr. Ormsby. ' Short commons though. What do 
you think we did in my time."^ — We used to send 
over the way to get a mutton chop.' 

' I wish you could see Buckhurst and me at break- 
fast,' said Coningsby, ' with a pound of Castle's 
sausages ! ' ^^ 

' What Buckhurst is that, Harry ?^ inquired LiH 
Monmouth, in a tone of some interest, and for mP! 
first time calling him by his christian name. I 

' Sir Charles Buckhurst, Sir, a Berkshire man ; 
Shirley Park is his place.' 

' Why that must be Charley's son, Eskdale,' said , 
Lord Monmouth : ' I had no idea he could be so I 
young.' 

' He married late you know, and had nothing 
daughters for a long time.' 

38 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

' Well, I hope there will be no Reform Bill for 
Eton,' said Lord Monmouth, musingly. 

The servants had now retired. 

' I think Lord Monmouth,' said Mr. Rigby, ' we 
must ask permission to drink one toast to-day.' 

' Nay, I will myself give it,' he replied. ' Madame 
Colonna, you will I am sure join us when we drink — 
THE Duke 1' 

'Ah! what a man!' exclaimed the Princess. 
' What a pity it is you have a House of Commons 
here. England would be the greatest country in 
the world if it were not for that House of Commons. 
It makes so much confusion ! ' 

' Don't abuse our property,' said Lord Eskdale, 
* Lord Monmouth and I have still twenty votes of 
that same body between us.' 

' And there is a combination,' said Rigby, ' by 
which you may still keep them.' 

'Ah! now for Rigby's combination?' said Lord 
Eskdale. 

' The only thing that can save this country,' said 
Rigby, ' is a coalition on a sliding scale.' 

' You had better buy up the Birmingham Union 
and the other bodies,' said Lord Monmouth, ' I be- 
lieve it might all be done for two or three hundred 
thousand pounds; and the newspapers too. Pitt 
would have settled this business long ago.' 

' Well, at any rate we are in,' said Rigby, ' and 
v/e must do something.' 

' I should like to see Grey's list of new peers,' 
said Lord Eskdale. ' They say there are several 
members of our club in it.' 

' And the claims to the honour are so opposite,' 
said Lucian Gay, ' one on account of his large estate; 
another, because he has none; one because he has 

39 



1 



CONINGSBY Book I 

a well-grown family to perpetuate the title; another, 
because he has no heir, and no power of ever obtain- 
ing one.' 

'I wonder how he will form his cabinet?' said 
Lord Monmouth, ' the old story won't do.' 

' I hear that Baring is to be one of the new cards; 
they say it will please in the city,' said Lord Eskdale. 
* I suppose they will pick out of hedge and ditch 
everything that has ever had the semblance of 
liberalism.' 

' Affairs in my time were never so complicated,' 
said Mr. Ormsby. 

' Nay, it appears to me to lie in a nutshell,' said 
Lucian Gay, ' one party wishes to keep their old 
boroughs, and the other to get their new peers.' 

CHAPTER VII 

The future historian of the country will be per- 
plexed to ascertain what was the distinct object which 
the Duke of Wellington proposed to himself in the 
political manoeuvres of May, 1832. It was known 
that the passing of the Reform Bill was a condition 
absolute with the King; it was unquestionable, that 
the first general election under the new law must 
ignominiously expel the Anti-Reform Ministry from 
power; who would then resume their seats on the 
Opposition benches in both houses with the loss not 
only of their boroughs, but of that reputation for 
political consistency, which might have been some 
compensation for the parlianientary influence of 
which they had been deprived. It is difBcult to 
recognise in this premature effort of the Anti-Reform 
leader to thrust himself again into the conduct of 
public affairs, any indications of the prescient jud 

40 



I 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

ment which might have been expected from such a 
quarter. It savoured rather of restlessness than of 
energy; and while it proved in its progress not only 
an ignorance on his part of the pubHc mind, but of 
the feelings of his own party, it terminated under 
circumstances which were humiliating to the Crown, 
and painfully significant of the future position of the 
House of Lords in the new constitutional scheme. 

The Duke of Wellington has ever been the votary 
of circumstances. He cares little for causes. He 
watches events rather than seeks to produce them. 
It is a characteristic of the military mind. Rapid 
combinations, the result of a quick, vigilant, and 
comprehensive glance, are generally triumphant in 
the field ; but in civil affairs, where results are not 
immediate; in diplomacy and in the management of 
deliberative assemblies, where there is much inter- 
vening time and many counteracting causes; this 
velocity of decision, this fitful and precipitate action, 
is often productive of considerable embarrassment, 
and sometimes of terrible discomfiture. It is re- 
markable that men celebrated for military prudence 
are often found to be headstrong statesmen. A great 
general in civil life is frequently and strangely the 
creature of impulse ; influenced in his political move- 
ments by the last snatch of information; and often 
the creature of the last aide-de-camp who has his 
ear. 

We shall endeavour to trace in another chapter the 
reasons which on this, as on previous and subsequent 
occasions, induced Sir Robert Peel to stand aloof, if 
possible, from official life, and made him reluctant to 
re-enter the service of his Sovereign. In the present 
mstance, even temporary success could 'only have 
been secured by the utmost decision, promptness and 

41 



CONINGSBY Book I 

energy. These were all wanting : some were afraid 
to follow the bold example of their leader; many were 
disinclined. In eight and forty hours it was known 
there was a ' hitch.' 

The Reform party, who had been rather stupified 
than appalled by the accepted mission of the Duke of 
Wellington, collected their scattered senses, and 
rallied their forces. The agitators harangued, the 
mobs hooted. The City of London, as if the King 
had again tried to seize the five members, appointed 
a permanent committee of the Common Council to 
watch the fortunes of the ' great national measure,' 
and to report daily. Brookes', which was the only 
place that at first was really frightened, and talked of 
compromise, grew valiant again; while young Whig 
heroes jumped upon club tables, and delivered fiery 
invectives. Emboldened by these demonstrations, 
the House of Commons met in great force, and 
passed a vote which struck, without disguise, at all 
rival powers in the State; virtually announced its 
supremacy; revealed the forlorn position of the 
House of Lords under the new arrangement; and 
seemed to lay for ever the fluttering phantom of regal 
prerogative. 

It was on the 9th of May that Lord Lyndhurst 
was with the King, and on the 15th all was over. 
Nothing in parliamentary history so humiliating as 
the funeral oration delivered that day by the Duke 
of Wellington over the old constitution, that, 
modelled on the Venetian, had governed England 
since the accession of the House of Hanover. He 
described his Sovereign, when his Grace first repaired 
to his Majesty, as in a state of the greatest * difficulty 
and distress,' appealing to his never failing loyalty 
to extricate him from his trouble and vexation. The 

42 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

Duke of Wellington representing the House of 
Lords sympathizes with the King, and pledges his 
utmost efforts for his Majesty's relief. But after 
five days' exertion, this man of indomitable will and 
invincible fortunes, resigns the task in discomfiture 
and despair, and alleges as the only and sufl&cient 
reason of his utter and hopeless defeat, that the 
House of Commons had come to a vote which ran 
counter to the contemplated exercise of the preroga- 
tive. 

From that moment power passed from the House 
of Lords to another assembly. But if the peers have 
ceased to be magnificoes, may it not also happen that 
the Sovereign may cease to be a Doge.^* It is not 
impossible that the political movements of our time, 
which seem on the surface to have a tendency to 
democracy, have in reality a monarchical bias. 

In less than a fortnight's time the House of 
Lords, like James II., having abdicated their func- 
tions by absence, the Reform Bill passed; the ardent 
monarch, who a few months before had expressed 
his readiness to go down to parliament, if necessary, 
in a hackney coach to assist its progress, now declin- 
ing personally to give his assent to its provisions 

In the protracted discussions to which this cele- 
brated measure gave rise, nothing is more remark- 
able than the perplexities into which the speakers of 
both sides are thrown, when they touch upon the 
nature of the representative principle. On one hand 
it was maintained, that under the old system the 
people were virtually represented ; while on the other, 
it was triumphantly urged, that if the principle be 
conceded, the people should not be virtually, but 
actually represented. But who are the people.? 
And where are you to draw a line.'^ And why 

43 



CONINGSBY Book I 

should there be any ? It was urged that a contribu- 
tion to the taxes was the constitutional qualification 
for the suffrage. But we have established a system 
of taxation in this country of so remarkable a nature, 
that the beggar who chews his quid as he sweeps a 
crossing, is contributing to the imposts. Is he to 
have a vote ? He is one of the people, and he yields 
his quota to the public burthens. 

Amid these conflicting statements and these con- 
founding conclusions, it is singular that no 
member of either house should have recurred 
to the original character of these popular 
assemblies, which have always prevailed among 
the northern nations. We still retain in the 
antique phraseology of our statutes, the term which 
might have beneficially guided a modern Reformer 
in his re-constructive labours. 

When the crowned Northman consulted on the 
welfare of his kingdom, he assembled the Estates 
of his realm. Now an estate is a class of the nation 
invested with political rights. There appeared the 
estate of the clergy, of the barons, of other classes. 
In the Scandinavian kingdoms to this day, the estate 
of the peasants sends its representatives to the Diet. 
In England, under the Normans, the Church and the 
Baronage were convoked, together with the estate of 
the Community, a term which then probably des- 
cribed the inferior holders of land, whose tenure was 
not immediate of the Crown. This Third Estate 
was so numerous, that convenience suggested its 
appearance by representation; while the others, more 
limited, apeared, and still apear, personally. The 
Third Estate was reconstructed as circumstances de- 
veloped themselves. It was a Reform of Parliament 
when the towns were summoned. 

44 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

In treating the House of the Third Estate as the 
House of the People, and not as the House of a 
privileged class, the Ministry and Parliament of 1831 
virtually conceded the principle of Universal Suff- 
rage. In this point of view the ten pound franchise 
was an arbitrary, irrational and impolitic qualification. 
It had, indeed, the merit of simplicity, and so had the 
constitutions of Abbe Sieyes. But its immediate and 
inevitable result was Chartism. 

But if the Ministry and Parliament of 1831 had 
announced that the time had arrived when the Third 
Estate should be enlarged and reconstructed, they 
would have occupied an intelligible position; and if, 
instead of simplicity of elements in its reconstruction, 
they had sought, on the contrary, various and varying 
materials which would have neutralised the painful 
predominance of any particular interest in the new 
scheme, and prevented those banded jealousies which 
have been its consequences, the nation would have 
found itself in a secure condition. Another class 
not less numerous than the existing one, and invested 
with privileges not less important, would have been 
added to the public estates of the realm; and the 
bewildering phrase * the People ' would Tiave re- 
mained what it really is, a term of natural philosophy, 
and not of political science. 

During this eventful week of May, 1832, v/hen 
an important revolution was effected in the most 
considerable of modern kingdoms, in a manner so 
tranquil, that the victims themselves were scarcely 
conscious at the time of the catastrophe, Coningsby 
passed his hours in unaccustomed pleasures and in 
novel excitement. Although he heard daily from 
the lips of Mr Rigby and his friends that England 
was for ever lost, the assembled guests still contrived 

45 



CONINGSBY Book I 

to do justice to his grandfather's excellent dinners; 
nor did the impending ruin that awaited them pre- 
vent the Princess Colonna from going to the opera, 
whither she very good-naturedly took Coningsby. 
Madame Colonna indeed gave such gratifying- 
accounts of her dear young friend, that Coningsby 
became daily a greater favourite with Lord Mon- 
mouth, who cherished the idea that his grandson had 
inherited not merely the colour of his eyes, but some- 
thing of his shrewd and fearless spirit. 

With Lucretia, Coningsby did not much advance. 
She remained silent and sullen. She was not beauti- 
ful; pallid, with a lowering brow, and an eye that 
avoided meeting another's. Madame Colonna, 
though good-natured, felt for her something of the 
affection for which step-mothers are celebrated. 
Lucretia, indeed, did not encourage her kindness, 
which irritated her step-mother, who seemed seldom 
to address her but to rate and chide; Lucretia never 
replied, but looked dogged. Her father, the Prince, 
did not compensate for this treatment. The memory 
of her mother, whom he had greatly disliked, did not 
soften his heart. He was a man still young; slend^^H 
not tall; very handsome, but worn; a hagga^^ 
;Antinous; his beautiful hair daily thinning; his dress 
jrich and effeminate; many jewels, much lace; he 
'seldom spoke, but was polished, though moody. 

At the end of the week, Coningsby returned to 
Eton. On the eve of his departure. Lord Mon- 
mouth desired his grandson to meet him in his , 
apartments on the morrow before Coningsby quitted 
his roof. This farewell visit was as kind and graci- 
ous as the first one had been repulsive. Lord Mon- 
mouth gave Coningsby his blessing and ten pounds, 
desired that he would order a dress, anything he liked, 

46 



I 



^ 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

for the approaching Montem, which Lord Mon- 
mouth meant to attend; and informed his grandson 
that he should order that in future a proper supply 
of game and venison should be forwarded to Eton 
for the use of himself and his friends. 



CHAPTER VIII 

After eight o'clock school, the day following the 
return of Coningsby, according to custom, he re- 
paired to Buckhurst's room, where Henry Sydney, 
Lord Vere, and our hero held with him their break- 
fast mess. They were all in the fifth form, and 
habitual companions, on the river or on the Fives' 
Wall, at cricket or at football. The return of Con- j 
ingsby, theirjeader alike in sport and study, inspired 
them to-day with unusual spirits, which, to say the 
truth were never particularly depressed. Where he 
had been, what had he seen, what he had done, what 
sort of fellow his grandfather was, whether the visit 
had been a success — here were materials for almost 
endless inquiry. And, indeed, to do them justice, 
the last question was not the least exciting to them; 
for the deep and cordial Interest which all felt In 
Coningsby's welfare far outweighed the curiosity 
which, under ordinary circumstances, they would 
have experienced on the return of one of their com- 
panions from an unusual visit to London. The 
report of their friend imparted to them unbounded 
satisfaction; when they learned that his relative was 
a splendid fellow; that he had been loaded with 
kindness and favours; that Monmouth House, the 
wonders of which he rapidly sketched, was hereafter 
to be his home; that Lord Monmouth was coming 
down to Montem; that Coningsby was to order any 

47 



CONINGSBY Book 1 

dress he liked, build a new boat if he chose, and, 
finally, had been tipped in a manner worthy of a Mar- 
ques and a grandfather. 

' By the bye,' said Buckhurst when the hubbub 
had a little subsided, * I am afraid you will not half 
like it, Coningsby : but, old fellow, I had no idea 
you would be back this morning, I have asked Mill- 
bank, to breakfast here.' 

A cloud stole over the clear brow of Coningsby. 

' It was my fault,' said the amiable Henry Sydney; 

* but I really wanted to be civil to Millbank and as 
you were not here, I put Buckhurst up to ask him.' 

* Well,' said Coningsby, as if sullenly resigned, 

* never mind; but why jou should ask an infernal 
manufacturer ! ' "" 

"^ ^ Why the Duke always wished me to pay him 
some aftehtion7 said" Lord Henry, mildly. * His 
Erriity weTe*^ civil to us when we were at Man- 
chester.' "^ ' 

^Manchester, indeed!' said Coningsby; * if you 
knew what I did about Manchester! A pretty state 
we have been in London this week past with youj^ 
Manchesters and Birminghams ! ' ^^H 

* Come — com.e, Coningsby,' said Lord Vere, the . 
son of a Whig minister; * I am all for Manchester 
and Birmingham.' 

' It is all up with the country I can tell you,' said , 
Coningsby, with the air of one who was in the i 
secret. 

* My father says it will all go right now,' rejoined 
I^ord Vere. ' I had a letter from my sister yester- 
day.' 

' They say we shall all lose our estates though,' 
said Buckhurst; ' I know I shall not give up mine 
without a fight. Shirley was besieged, you know, 

4« 



^ 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

in the civil wars; and the rebels got infernally 
licked.' 

' I think that all the people about Beaumanoir 
would stand by the Duke,' said Lord Henry, pen- 
sively. 

* Well — you may depend upon it you will have 
it very soon,' said Coningsby. * I know it from the 
best authority.' 

' It depends whether my father remains in,' said 
Lord Vere. ' He is the only man who can govern 
the country now. All say that.' 

At this moment Millbank came in. He was a 
good-looking boy, somewhat shy, and yet with a 
sincere expression in his countenance. He was, evi- 
dently, not extremely intimate with those who were 
now his companions. Buckhurst, and Henry Sydney, 
and Vere welcomed him cordially. He looked at 
Coningsby with some constraint, and then said : 

* You have been in London, Coningsby.?' 

' Yes, I have been there during all the row.' 

* You must have had a rare lark.' 

' Yes, if having your windows broken by a mob 
be a rare lark. They could not break my grand- 
father's though. Monmouth House is in a court 
yard. All noblemen's houses should be in court 
yards.' 

' I was e^lad to see it all ended very well,' said 
Millbank. ^ 

' It has not begun yet,' said Coningsby. 

'What.?' said Millbank. 

< Why — the revolution.' 

' The Reform Bill will prevent a revolution, my 
father says,' said Millbank. 

' By Jove! here's the goose,' said Buckhurst. 

At this moment there entered the room a little 
^ 49 



CONINGSBY Book I 

boy, the scion of a noble house, bearing a roasted 
goose which he had carried from the kitchen of the 
opposite inn, the Christopher. The lower boy or fag, 
depositing his burthen, asked his master whether he 
had further need of him, and Buckhurst after looking 
round the table and ascertaining that he had not, gave 
him permission to retire; but he had scarcely dis- 
appeared when his master singing out ' Lower boy, 
St. John,' he immediately re-entered and demanded 
his master's pleasure, which was, that he should pour 
some water in the tea-pot. This being accomplished, 
St. John really made his escape and retired to a pupil 
room, where the bullying of a tutor, because he 
had no derivations, exceeded, in all probability, the 
bullying of his master, had he contrived in his pas- 
sage from the Christopher to have upset the goose or 
dropped the sausages. 

In their merry meal, the Reform Bill was forgotten. 
Their thoug^hts were soon concentred in their littl^ 
world, though it must be owned that visions of {I^Bj 
aces and beautiful ladies did occasionally flit over ' 
the brain of one of the company. But for him 
especially there was much of interest and novelty. 
So much had happened in his absence! There was 
a week's arrears for him of Eton annals. They were ; 
recounted in so fresh a spirit and in such vivid | 
colours, that Coningsby lost nothing: by his London , 
visit. All the bold feats that had been done, and all 
the briglit "tilings tKat had^'beeff'said; alT^the 
triumpK?,"afid all the failures, and all the scrapes; 
how popular ofie master had made himself, and how 
ridiculous another; all was detailed with a liveliness, 
a candour, and a picturesque ingenuousness, which 
would have made the fortune of a Herodotus or a 
Froissart. 

50 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

' I'll tell you what,' said Buckhurst, ' I move that 
after twelve is called, we five go up to Maidenhead.' 
' Agreed — agreed ! ' 

CHAPTER IX 

MiLLBANK was the son of one of the wealthiest 
manufacturers of Lancashire. His father, whose 
opinions were of a very democratic bent, sent his son 
to Eton, though he disapproved of the system of 
education pursued there, to show that he had as much 
right to do so as any Duke in the land. He had, 
however, brought up his only boy with a due pre- 
judice against every sentiment or institution of an 
aristocratic character, and had especially impressed 
upon him in his school career to avoid the slightest 
semblance of courting the affections or society of any 
member of the falsely held superior class. 

The character of the son, as much as the influence 
of the father, tended to the fulfilment of these 
injunctions. Osv/ald Millbank was of a proud and 
independent nature; reserved, a little stern. The 
early and constantly reiterated dogma of his father, 
that he belonged to a class debarred from its just 
position in the social system, had aggravated the 
grave and somewhat discontented humour of his 
blood. His talents were considerable, though in- 
vested with no dazzling quality. He had not that 
quick and brilliant apprehension, which, combined 
with a memory of rare retentiveness, had already 
advanced Coningsby far beyond his age, and made 
him already looked to as the future hero of the school. 
But Millbank possessed one of those strong indus- 
trious volitions v/hose perseverance amounts almost 
to genius, and nearly attains its results. Though 

51 



CONINGSBY Book I 

Coningsby was by a year his junior, they were rivals. 
This circumstance had no tendency to remove the 
prejudice which Coningsby entertained against him, 
but its bias on the part of Millbank had a very con- 
trary effect. 

The influence of the individual is nowhere so 
sensible as at school. There the personal qualities 
strike without any intervening and counteracting 
causes. A gracious presence, noble sentiments, or a 
happy talent, make their way there at once, without 
preliminary inquiries as to what set they are in, or 
what family they are of, how much they have a year, 
or where they live. Now on no spirit had the influ- 
ence of Coningsby, already the favourite, and soon 
probably to become the idol, of the school, fallen 
more effectually than on that of Millbank, though 
it was an influence that no one could suspect except 
its votary, or its victim. 

At school, friendship is a passion. It entrances 
the being; it tears the soul. All loves of after life 
can never bring its rapture, or its wretchedness; 
bliss so absorbing, no pangs of jealousy or despai 
crushing and so keen ! What tenderness and what 
devotion; what illimitable confidence; infinite revela- 
tions of inmost thoughts; what ecstatic present and 
romantic future; what bitter estrangements and what 
melting reconciliations; what scenes of wild recrimi- 
nation, agitating explanations, passionate correspond- 
ence; what insane sensitiveness, and what frantic 
sensibility; what earthquakes of the heart, and whirl- 
winds of the soul, are confined in that simple phrase 
— a schoolboy's friendship! 'Tis some indefinite 
recollection of these mystic passages of their young 
emotion, that makes grey-haired men mourn over tbe 
memory of their schoolboy days. It is a spell that 

52 



^ 



Chapter IX CONINGSBY 

can soften the acerbity of political warfare, and with 

its witchery can call forth a sigh even amid the callous ^ 

bustle of fashionable saloons. v<^i iJ^\ 

The secret of Millbank^s life was a passionate (^' 
admiration and affection for Coningsby. Pride, his"^ 
natural reserve and his father's injunctions, had how- 
ever hitherto successfully combined to restrain the 
slightest demonstration of these sentiments. Indeed 
Coningsby and himself were never companions, 
except in school, or in some public game. The 
demeanour of Coningsby gave no encouragement to 
intimacy to one, who, under any circumstances, would 
have required considerable invitation to open him- 
self. So Millbank fed in silence on a cherished idea. 
It was his happiness to be in the same form, to join 
in the same sport with "Coningsby; occasionally to be 
thrown in unusual contact with him, to exchange 
slight and not unkind words. In their division they 
were rivals; Millbank sometimes triumphed, but to 
be vanquished by Coningsby was for him not without 
a degree of wild satisfaction. Not a gesture, not a 
phrase from Coningsby, that he did not watch and 
ponder over and treasure up. Coningsby was his 
model, alike in studies, in manners, or in pastimes ; 
the aptest scholar, the gayest wit, the most graceful 
associate, the most accomplished playmate : his 
standard_of the excellent. Yet Millbank was the 
very last boy "7n"f Re "school who would have had 
credit given him by his companions for profound and 
ardent feeling. He was not, indeed, unpopular. 
The favourite of the school like Coningsby, he could 
under no circumstances, ever have become; nor was 
he qualified^to obtain that p^eneral graciousness aniong^ 
the multitude, w^hich the sweet disposition of Henry 
^fdhey'bf 'the gay profusion of Buckhurst, acquired 



CONINGSBY Book I 

without an effort. Millbank was not blessed with 
the charm of manner. He seemed close and cold; 
but he was courageous, just and inflexible; never 
bullied, and to his utmost would prevent tyranny. 
The little boys looked up to him as to a stern pro- 
tector. His word throughout the school too was a 
proverb : and truth ranks a great quality among 
boys. In a word, Millbank was respected by those 
among whom he lived, and schoolboys scan character 
more nicely than men suppose. 

A brother of iienry Sydney, quartered in Lanca- 
shire, had been wounded recently in a riot, and had 
received great kindness from the Millbank family, in 
whose immediate neighbourhood the disturbance had 
occurred. The kind Duke had impressed on Henry 
Sydney to acknowledge with cordiality to the younger 
Millbank at Eton, the sense which his family enter- 
tained of these benefits; but though Henry lost 
neither time nor opportunity in obeying an injunc- 
tion, which was grateful to his own heart, he failed 
in cherishing, or indeed creating any intimacy with 
the object of his solicitude. A companionship with 
one who was Coningsby's relative and most familiar 
friend, would at the first glance have appeared, inde- 
pendent of all other considerations, a most desirable 
result for Millbank to accomplish. But perhaps this 
very circumstance afforded additional reasons for the 
absence of all encouragement with which he received 
the overtures of Lord Henry. Millbank suspected 
that Coningsby was not affected in his favour, and 
his pride recoiled from gaining by any indirect means, 
an intimacy which to have obtained in a plain and 
express manner, would have deeply gratified him. 
However the urgent invitation of Buckhurst and 
Henry Sydney, and the fear that a persistence 

54 



I 



Chapter IX CONINGSBY 

refusal might be misinterpreted into churlishness, had 
at length brought Millbank to their breakfast mess, 
though when he accepted their invitation, he did not 
apprehend that Coningsby would have been present. 

It was about an hour before sunset, the day of this 
very breakfast, and a good number of boys in loung- 
ing groups, v/ere collected in the Long Walk. The 
sports and matches of the day were over. Criticism 
had succeeded to action in sculling and in cricket. 
They talked over the exploits of the morning; can- 
vassed the merits of the competitors, marked the 
fellow whose play or whose stroke was improving, 
glanced at another, whose promise had not been 
fulfilled; discussed the pretensions, and adjudged the 
palm. Thus public opinion is formed. Some too 
might be seen with their books and exercises, intent 
on the inevitable and impending task. Among these, 
some unhappy wight in the remove wandering about 
with his hat after parochial fashion, seeking relief in 
the shape of a verse. A hard lot this, to know that 
you must be delivered of fourteen verses at least in 
the twenty-four hours, and to be conscious that you 
are pregnant of none. The lesser boys, urchins of 
tender years, clustered like flies round the baskets of 
certain vendors of sugary delicacies that rested on 
the Long Walk wall. The pallid countenance, the 
lack - lustre eye, the hoarse voice clogged with 
accumulated phlegm, indicated too surely the irre- 
claimable and hopeless votary of lollypop — the 
opium eater of schoolboys. 

' It is settled, the match to-morrow shall be 
between Aquatics and Drybobs,' said a senior boy;' 
who was arranging a future match at cricket. 

^ But what's to be done about Fielding Major?' 
inquired another. ' He has not paid his boating 

55 



CONINGSBY Book I 

money, and I say he has no right to play among the 
Aquatics before he has paid his money.' 

' Oh ! but we must have Fielding Major, he's such 
a devil of a swipe.' 

' I declare he shall not play among the Aquatics if 
he does not pay his boating money. It is an infernal 
shame.' 

' Let us ask Buckhurst. Where is Buckhurst ?^ 

* Have you got any toffy.?' inquired a dull looking 
little boy in a hoarse voice of one of the vendors of 
scholastic confectionary. 

' Tom Trott, Sir.' 
'No; I want toffy.' 
' Very nice Tom Trott, Sir.' 

' No, I want toffy; I have been eating Tom Trot 
all day.' 

* Where is Buckhurst ? We must settle about the 
Aquatics.' 

* Well, T for one will not play if Fielding Maj 
plays amongst the Aquatics. That's settled.' 

* Oh ! nonsense; he will pay his money if you 
him.' 

* I shall not ask him again. The captain duns 
every day. It's an infernal shame.' 

' I say Burnham, where can one get some toffj 
This fellow never has any.' 

' I'll tell you; at Barnes' on the bridge. The best 
toffy in the world.' 

' I'll go at once. I must have some toffy.' 

' Just help me with this verse, Collins,' said one 
boy to another in an imploring tone, ' that's a good 
fellow.' 

' Well, give it us: first syllable in fabri is short; 
three false quantities in the two first lines! You're 
a pretty one. There, I have done it for you.' 

56 



Chapter IX CONINGSBY 

' That's a good fellow.' 
' Any fellow seen Buckhurst?' 
' Gone up the river with Coningsby and Henry 
Sydney.' 

' But he must be back by this time. I want him 
to make the list for the match to-morrow. Where 
the deuce can Buckhurst be.^^' 

And now as rumours rise in society we know not 
how, so there was suddenly a flying report in this 
multitude, the origin of which no one in their alarm 
stopped to ascertain, that a boy was drowned. 
Every heart was agitated. 

What boy.f^ When — where — how.'^ Who was 
absent .f' Who had been on the river to-day.^ 
Buckhurst. The report ran that Buckhurst was 
drowned. Great were the trouble and consternation. 
Buckhurst was ever much liked; and now no one 
remembered anything but his good qualities. 

'Who heard it was Buckhurst .f^' said Sedgwick, 
captain of the school, coming forward. 

' I heard Bradford tell Palmer it was Buckhurst,' 
said a little boy. 

'Where is Bradford.?' 
' Here.' 

' What do you know about Buckhurst .'^' 
' Wentworth told me that he was afraid Buckhurst 
was drowned. He heard it at Brocas; a bargeman 
told him about a quarter of an hour ago.' 

' Here's Wentworth — here's Wentworth!' a hun- 
dred voices exclaimed, and they formed a circle round 
him. 

' Well, what did you hear, Wentworth ?^ asked 
Sedgwick. 

' I was at Brocas, and a bargeman told me that an 
Eton boy had been drowned up stream, and the only 

57 



CONINGSBY Book I 

Eton boat up stream to-day, as I can learn is Buck- 
hurst's. That is all.' 

Inhere was a murmur of hope. 

' Oh ! come, come,' said Sedgwick, ' there is 
some chance. Who is with Buckhurst; who 
knows .'^' 

' I saw him walk down to Brocas with Vere,' said 
a boy. 

' 1 hope it is not Vere,' said a little boy with a 
tearful eye, ' he never lets any fellow bully me.' 

' Here's Mai tra vers,' halloed out a boy, ' he knows 
something.' 

' Well, what do you know, Maltravers.'^' 

' I heard Boots at the Christopher say that an Eton 
boy was drowned, and that he had seen a person who 
was there.' 

' Bring Boots here,' said Sedgwick. 

Instantly a band of boys rushed over the way, and 
in a moment the witness was produced. 

' W^hat have you heard, Sam, about this accident ? 
said Sedgwick. 

' Well, Sir, I heerd a young gentleman 
drowned above Monkey Island,' said Boots. 

' And no name mentioned.^' 

' Well, Sir, I believe it was Mr. Coningsby.' 

A general groan of horror. 

' Coningsby — Coningsby ! By Heavens, I hope 
not,' said Sedgwick. 

'I very much fear so,' said Boots; 'as how the 
bargeman who told me, saw Mr. Coningsby in the 
lock-house laid out in flannels.' 

' I had sooner any fellow had been drowned than 
Coningsby,' whispered one boy to another. 

' I liked him, the best fellow at Eton,' responded 
his companion, in a smothered tone. 

5S 



1 



I 



Chapter IX COJNINGSBY 

' What a clever fellow he was ! ' 

' And so duced generous 1 ' 

' He would have got the medal if he had lived.' 

* And how came he to be drowned, for he was such 
a fine swimmer ! ' 

' I heerd Mr. Coningsby was a saving another's 
life,' continued Boots in his evidence, ' which makes 
it in a manner more sorrowful.' 

' Poor Coningsby ! ' exclaimed a boy, bursting into 
tears, ' I move the whole school goes into mourning.' 

' I wish we could get hold of this bargeman,' said 
Sedgwick. ' Now stop, stop, don't all run away in 
that mad manner; you frighten the people. Charles 
Herbert and Palmer, you two go down to Brocas and 
inquire.' 

But just at this moment, an increased stir and 
excitement were evident in the long walk; the circle 
round Sedgwick opened, and there appeared Henry 
Sydney and Buckhurst. 

There was a dead silence. It was impossible that 
suspense could be strained to a higher pitch. The 
air and countenance of Sydney and Buckhurst were 
rather excited than mournful or alarmed. They 
needed no inquiries, for before they had penetrated 
the circle they had become aware of its cause. 

Buckhurst, the most energetic of beings, was of 
course the first to speak. Henry Sydney, indeed, 
looked pale and nervous; but his companion, flushed 
and resolute, knew^ exactly how to hit a popular 
assembly and at once came to the point. 

' It is all a false report; an infernal lie; Coningsby 
is quite safe, and nobody is drowned.' 

There was a cheer that might have been heard at 
Windsor Castle. Then, turning to Sedgwick, in an 
under tone Buckhurst added : 

59 



CONINGSBY Book I 

' It is all right, but by Jove we have had a shaver! 
I will tell you all in a moment, but we want to keep 
the thing quiet, and so let the fellows disperse and we 
will talk afterwards.' 

In a few moments, the Long Walk had re-assumed 
its usual character; but Sedgwick, Herbert, and one 
or two others turned into the Playing fields where, 
undisturbed and unnoticed by the multitude, they 
listened to the promised communication of Buckhurst 
and Henry Sydney. 

' You know we went up the river together,' said 
Buckhurst. ' Myself, Henry Sydney, Coningsby, 
Vere, and Millbank. We had breakfasted together, 
and after twelve agreed to row up. Well we went 
up much higher than we had intended. About a 
quarter of a mile before we had got to Maidenhead 
Lock we pulled up; Coningsby was then steering. 
Well, we fastened the boat to, and were all of us 
stretched out in the meadow, when Millbank and 
Vere said they should go and bathe in the Lock Pool. 
The rest of us were opposed; but after Millbank an^^ 
Vere had gone about ten minutes, Coningsby, wl^H 
was very fresh, said he had changed his mind an^^ 
should go and bathe, too. So he left us. He ha^^ 
scarcely got to the pool when he heard a cry. Thei^B 
was a fellow drowniiip^. He threw off his clothes an^^ 
was in in a moment. The fact is this, Millbank had 
plunged in the pool and found himself in some 
eddies, caused by the meeting of two currents. He 
called out to Vere not to come and tried to swim off. 
But he was beat, and seeing he was in danger, Vere 
jumped in. But the stream was so strong from the 
great fall of water from the lasher above, that Vere 
was exhausted before he could reach Millbank and 
nearly sank himself. Well, he just saved himseli 

60 



I 



Chapter IX CONINGSBY 

but Millbank sank as Coningsby jumped in. What 
do you think of that ?' 

' By Jove ! ' exclaimed Sedgwick, Herbert and all. 
The favourite oath of schoolboys perpetuates the 
divinity of Olympus. 

' And now cornes the worst. Coningsby caught 
Millbank when he rose; but he found himself in the 
midst of the same strong current that had before 
nearly swamped Vere. What a lucky thing that he 
had taken it into his head not to pull to-day! 
Fresher than Vere, he just managed to land Millbank 
and himself, l^he shouts of Vere called us, and we 
arrived to find the bodies of Millbank and Coningsby 
apparently lifeless, for Millbank was quite gone, and 
Coningsby had swooned on landing.' 

' If Coningsby had been lost,' said Henry Sydney, 
I never would have shown my face at Eton again.' 

' Can you conceive a position more terrible.?' said 
Buckhurst. ' I declare I shall never forget it as long 
as I live. However there was the Lock House at 
hand; and we got blankets and brandy. Coningsby 
was soon all right; but Millbank, I can tell you, gave 
us some trouble. I thought it was all up. Didn't 
you, Henry Sydney.?' 

' The most fishy thing I ever saw,' said Henry 
Sydney. 

'Well, we were fairly frightened here,' said Sedg- 
wick. ' The first report was, that you had gone; but 
that seemed without foundation. But Coningsby 
was quite given up. Where are they now ?' 

' They are both at their tutor's. I thought they 
had better keep quiet. Vere is with Millbank, and 
we are going back to Coningsby directly; but we 
thought it best to show, finding on our arrival that 
there were all sorts of rumours about. I think it 

6i 



CONINGSBY Book I 

will be best to report at once to our tutor, for he will 
be sure to hear something.' 
' I would if I were you.' 

CHAPTER X 

What wonderful things are events! The least 
are of greater importance than the most sublime and 
comprehensive speculations! In what fanciful 
schemes to obtain the friendship of Coningsby had 
Millbank in his reveries often indulged! What 
combinations that were to extend over years and 
influence their lives! But the moment that he 
entered the world of action, his pride recoiled from 
the plans and hopes which his sympathy had inspired. 
His sensibility and his inordinate self-respect were 
always at variance. And he seldom exchanged a 
word with the being whose idea engrossed his affec- 
tion. 

And now, suddenly an event had occurred, like 
all events, unforeseen, which in a few brief, agitating, 
tumultuous moments, had singularly and utterly 
changed the relations that previously subsisted be- 
tween him and the former object of his concealed 
tenderness. Millbank now stood, with respect to 
Coningsby, in the position of one who owes to an- 
other the greatest conceivable obligation; a favour 
which time could permit him neither to forget nor 
to repay. Pride was a sentiment that could no longer 
subsist before the preserver of his life. Devotion to 
that being, open, almost ostentatious, was now a duty, 
a paramount and absorbing tie. The sense of past 
peril, the rapture of escape, a renewed relish for the 
life so nearly forfeited, a deep sentiment of devout 
gratitude to the Providence that had guarded ov 

62 



1 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 

him, for Millbank was an eminently religious boy, 
a thought of home, and the anguish that might have 
overwhelmed his hearth ; all these were powerful and 
exciting emotions for a young and fervent mind, in 
addition to the peculiar source of sensibility on which 
we have already touched. Lord Vere, who lodged 
in the same house as Millbank, and was sitting by 
his bedside, observed as night fell that his mind 
wandered. 

The illness of Millbank, the character of which 
soon transpired and was soon exaggerated, attracted 
the public attention with increased interest to the 
circumstances out of which it had arisen, and from 
which the parties principally concerned had wished 
to have diverted notice. The sufferer indeed had 
transgressed the rules of the school by bathing at an 
unlicensed spot, where there were no expert 
swimmxrs in attendance, as is customary, to instruct 
the practice and to guard over the lives of the young 
adventurers. But the circumstances with which this 
violation of rules had been accompanied, and the 
assurance of several of the party that they had not 
themselves infringed the regulations, combined with 
the high character of Millbank, made the authorities 
not over anxious to visit with penalties a breach of 
observance, which, in the case of the only proved 
offender, had been attended with such impressive 
consequences. The feat of Coningsby was extolled 
by all as an act of high gallantry and skill. It con- 
firmed and increased the great reputation which he 
already enjoyed. 

* Millbank is getting quite well,' said Buckhurst 
to Coningsby a few days after the accident. Henry 
Sydney and I are going to see him. Will you 
come?' 

63 



CONINGSBY Book I 

* I think we shall be too many. I will go another 
day,' replied Coningsby. 

So they went without him. They found Millbank 
up and reading. 

' Well, old fellow,' said Buckhurst, ' how are you ? 
We should have come up before but they would not 
let us. And you are quite right now, eh.^^' 

' Quite; has there been any row about it ?^ 

* All blown over,' said Henry Sydney; ' C*******y 
behaved like a trump.' 

' I have seen nobody yet,' said Millbank; * they 
would not let me till to-day. Vere looked in this 
morning and left me this book, but I was asleep. I 
hope they will let me out in a day or two. I want 
to thank Coningsby; I never shall rest till I have 
thanked Coningsby.' 

' Oh ! he will come to see you,' said Henry Syd- 
ney. ' I asked him just now to come with us.' 

' Yes!' said Millbank, eagerly; ' and what did he 
say .f^' 

' He thought we should be too many.' 

' I hope I shall see him soon,' said Millbank, ' some 
how or other.' 

' I will tell him to come,' said Buckhurst. 

' Oh! no, no; don't tell him to come,' said Mill- 
bank. *Don't bore him.' 

' I know he is going to play a match at fives this 
afternoon,' said Buckhurst, ' for I am one.' 

' And who are the others?' inquired Millbank. 

* Herbert and Campbell.' 

* Herbert is no match for Coningsby,' said Mill- 
bank. 

And then they talked over all that had happened 
since his absence; and Buckhurst gave him a very 
graphic report of the excitement on the afternoon 

64 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 



of the accident; at last they were obliged to leave 
him. 

'Well, good bye, old fellow; we will come and 
see you every day. What can we do for you ? Any 
books or anything .f" 

' If any fellow asks after me,' said Millbank, ' tell 
him I shall be glad to see him. It is very dull being 
alone. But do not tell any fellow to come if he does 
not ask after me.' 

Notwithstanding the kind suggestions of Buck- 
hurst and Henry Sydney, Coningsby could not easily 
bring himself to call on Millbank. He felt a con- 
straint. It seemed as if he went to receive thanks. 
He would rather have met Millbank again in school, 
or in the playing fields. Without being able then to 
analyze his feelings, he shrank unconsciously from 
that ebullition of sentiment, which in more artificial 
circles is described as a scene. Not that any dislike 
of Millbank prompted him to this reserve. On the 
contrary, since he had conferred a great obligation on 
Millbank, his prejudice against him had sensibly 
decreased. How it would have been had Millbank 
saved Coningsby's life, is quite another affair. Pro- 
bably, as Coningsby was by nature generous, his 
sense of justice might have struggled successfully 
with his painful sense of the overwhelming obliga- 
tion. But in the present case there was no element 
to disturb his fair self-satisfaction. He had greatly 
distinguished himself; he had conferred on his rival 
an essential service; and the whole world rang with 
his applause. He had begun rather to like Millbank; 
we will not say because Millbank was the uninten- 
tional cause of his pleasurable sensations. Really it 
was that the unusual circumstances had prompted 
him to a more impartial judgment of his rival's char- 
E 65 



CONINGSBY Book I 

acter. In this mood, the day after the visit of Buck- 
hurst and Henry Sydney, Coningsby called on 
Millbank, but finding his medical attendant with 
him, Coningsby availed himself of that excuse for 
going away without seeing him. 

The next day he left Millbank a newspaper on his 
way to school, time not permitting a visit. Two 
days after, going into his room, he found on his 
table, a letter addressed to Harry Coningsby^ Esq. 

Eton, May — , 1832. " 
* Dear Coningsby, 

' I very much fear that you must think me a 
very ungrateful fellow because you have not heard 
from me before; but I was in hopes that I might get 
out and say to you what I feel; but whether I speak 
or write, it is quite impossible for me to make you 
understand the feelings of my heart to you. Now 
I will say at once that I have always liked you better 
than any fellow in the school, and always thought you 
the cleverest; indeed I always thought that there 
was no one like you, but I never would say this or 
show this, because you never seemed to care for me, 
and because I was afraid you would think I merely 
wanted to make a pal of you, as they used to say of 
some other fellows, whose names I will not mention, 
because they always tried to make a pal with Henry 
Sydney and you. I do not want this at all, but Lj 
want, though we may not speak to each other more 
than before, that we may be friends; and that you 
will always know that there is nothing I will not do 
for you, and that I like you better than any fellow at 
Eton. And I do not mean that this shall be only at 
Eton, but afterwards, wherever we may be, that you 
will always remember that there is nothing I will 

6G 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 

do for you. Not because you saved my life, though 
that is a great thing, but because before that I would 
have done anything for you; only for the cause above 
mentioned, I would not show it. I do not expect 
that we shall be more together than before; nor can 
I ever suppose that you could like me as you like 
Henry Sydney and Buckhurst, or even as you like 
Vere; but still I hope you will always think of me 
with kindness now, and let me sign myself, if ever I 
do write to you. 

Your most attached, affectionate, and devoted 
friend, 

Oswald Millbank.' 



CHAPTER XI 

About a fortnight after this nearly fatal adventure 
on the river, it was Montem. One need hardly 
remind the reader that this celebrated ceremony, of 
which the origin is lost in obscurity and which now 
occurs triennially, is the tenure by which Eton Col- 
lege holds some of its domains; the waving of a flag 
by one of the scholars on a mount near the village of 
Salt Hill, and to which without doubt it gives the 
name, since on this day every visitor to Eton, and 
every traveller in its vicinity, from the monarch to 
the peasant, are stopped oh the road by youthful 
brigands in picturesque costume, and summoned to 
contribute * salt,' in the shape of coin of the realm, 
to the purse collecting for the Captain of Eton, the 
senior scholar on the Foundation, who is about to 
repair to King's College, Cambridge. 

On this day the Captain of Eton appears in a dress 
as martial as his title : indeed, each sixth form boy 

67 



CONINGSBY Book I 

represents in his uniform, though not perhaps accord- 
ing to the exact rules of the Horse Guards, an officer 
of the army. One is a marshal, another an ensign. 
There is a lieutenant, too; and the remainder are 
sergeants. Each of those who are intrusted with 
these ephemeral commissions, has one or more atten- 
dants : the num.ber of these varying according to his 
rank. These Servitors are selected, according to the 
wishes of the several members of the sixth form, out 
of the ranks of the lower boys, that is, those boys 
who are below the fifth form; and all these attendants 
are arrayed in a variety of fancy dresses. The 
senior Oppidan and the senior Colleger next to the 
Captains of those two divisions of the school, figure 
also in fancy costume, and are called ' Saltbearers.' 
It is their business, together with the twelve senior 
Collegers of the fifth form, who are called ' Runners,' 
and whose costume is also determined by the taste of 
the wearers, to levy the contributions. And all the 
Oppidans of the fifth form, among whom ranked 
Coningsby, class as ' Corporals;' and are severally 
followed by one or more lower boys, who are denomi 
nated ' Polemen,' but who appear in their ordin 
dress. 

It was a fine bright morning; the bells of Et 
and Windsor rang merrily; everybody was astir, a 
every moment some gay equipage drove into the 
town. Gaily clustering in the thronged precincts of 
the College might be observed many a glistening 
form; airy Greek, or sumptuous Ottoman, heroes of 
the Floly Sepulchre, Spanish Hidalgos who had 
fought at Pavia, Highland chiefs who had charged 
at Culloden, gay in the tartan of Prince Charlie. 
The Long Walk was full of busy groups in scarlet 
coats, or fanciful uniforms; some in earnest conv 

68 



il^H 



Chapter XI CONINGSBY 

sation, some criticising the arriving guests; others 
encircling some magnificent hero, who astounded 
them with his slashed doublet or flowing plume. 

A knot of boys sitting on the Long Walk wall 
with their feet swinging in the air, watched the 
arriving guests of the Provost. 

' I say, Townshend,' said one, ' there's Grobbleton; 
he was a bully. I wonder if that's his wife. Who's 
this } The Duke of Agincourt. He wasn't an Eton 
fellow 1 Yes, he was. He was called Poictiers then. 
Oh ! ah ! his name is in the upper school, very large, 
under Charles Fox. I say, Townshend, did you see 
Saville's turban ^ What was it made of .^ He says 
his mother brought it from Grand Cairo. Didn't he 
just look like the Saracen's Head! Here are some 
Dons. That's Hallam ! We'll give him a cheer. I 
say, Townshend, look at this fellow. He does not 
think small beer of himself. I wonder who he is! 
The Duke of Wellington's valet come to say his 
master is engaged. Oh! by Jove he heard you. I 
wonder if the Duke will come. Won't we give him 
a cheer!' 

' By Jove, who is this.?' exclaimed Townshend, and 
he jumped from the wall, and followed by his com- 
panions rushed towards the road. 

Two britskas, each drawn by four grey horses of 
mettle, and each accompanied by outriders as well 
mounted, were advancing at a rapid pace along the 
road that leads from Slough to the College. But 
they were destined to an irresistible check. About 
fifty yards before they had reached the gate that leads 
into Weston's yard, a ruthless but splendid Al- 
banian, in crimson and gold embroidered jacket, and 
snowy camese, started forward, and holding out his 
silver-sheathed yataghan commanded the postilions 

69 



CONINGSBY Book I 

to stop. A Peruvian Inca on the other side of the 
road gave a simultaneous command, and would infal- 
libly have transfixed the outriders with an arrow from 
his unerring bow, had they for an instant hesitated. 
The Albanian Chief then advanced to the door of the 
carriage, which he opened, and in a tone of great 
courtesy, announced that he was under the necessity 
of troubling its inmates for ' salt.' There was no 
delay. The Lord of the equipage with the amiable 
condescension of a ' grand monarque,' expressed his 
hope that the collection would be an ample one, and 
as an old Etonian, placed in the hands of the Albanian 
his contribution, a magnificent purse furnished for 
the occasion and heavy with gold. 

* Don't be alarmed, ladies,' said a very handsome 
young officer laughing, and taking off his cocked 
hat. 

' Ah!' exclaimed one of the ladies, turning at the 
voice, and starting a little. ' Ah ! it is Mr. Co^^ 
ingsby.' j^H 

Lord Eskdale paid the salt for the next carriage. 
' Do they come down pretty stiff .^' he inquired, and 
then pulling forth a roll of bank-notes from t he.^ 
pocket of his pea-jacket, he wished them go^M 
morning. BB 

The courtly Provost, then the benignant Goodall, 
a man who though his experience of life was confined , 
to the colleges in which he had passed his days, was \ 
naturally gifted with that rarest of all endowments, \ 
the talent of reception; and whose happy bearing and ; 
gracious manner — a smile ever in his eye, and a lively 
word ever on his lip — must be recalled by all with 
pleasant recollections, welcomed Lord Monmouth 
and his friends to an assemblage of the noble, the 
beautiful, and the celebrated, gathered together in 

70 



I 



Chapter XI CONINGSBY 

rooms not unworthy of them, as you looked upon 
then- interesting walls breathing with the portraits 
of the heroes of whom Eton boasts — from Wotton 
to VVeliesley. Music sounded in the quadrangle of 
the College in which the boys were already quickly 
assembling. The Duke of Wellington had arrived, 
and the boys were cheering a hero who was also an 
Eton field-marshal. From an oriel window in one 
of the Provost's rooms. Lord Monmouth, sur- 
rounded by every circumstance that could make life 
delightful, watched with some intentness the scene 
in the quadrangle beneath. 

' I would give his fame,' said Lord Monmouth; 
' if I had it, and my wealth — to be sixteen.' 

Five hundred of the youth of England, sparkling 
with health, high spirits, and fancy dresses, were now 
assembled in the quadrangle. They formed into 
rank, and headed by a band of the Guards, thrice 
they marched round the court. Then quitting the 
College, they commenced their progress ' ad Mon- 
tem.' It was a brilliant spectacle to see them defiling 
through the playing fields; those bowery meads; the 
river sparkling in the sun; the castled heights of 
Windsor, their glorious landscape; behind them, 
the pinnacles of their College. 

The road from Eton to Salt Hill was clogged with 
carriages; the broad fields as far as eye could range 
were covered with human beings. Amid the burst 
of martial music and the shouts of the multitude, 
the band of heroes, as if they were marching from 
Athens or Thebes or Sparta to some heroic deed, 
encircled the mount; the ensign reaches its summit, 
and then amid a deafening cry of ' Floreat Etona,' 
he unfurls, and thrice waves the consecrated stan- 
dard! 

71 



CONINGSBY Book I 

' Lord Monmouth,' said Mr. Rigby to Coningsby, 
' wishes that you should beg your friends to dine 
with him. Of course you will ask Lord Henry and 
your friend Sir Charles Buckhurst; and is there any 
one else that you would like to invite .f^' 

' Why there is Vere,' said Coningsby hesitating, 
' and—' 

'Vere! What Lord Vere.?' said Mr. Rigby. 
' Hum ! He is one of your friends, is he ? His 
father has done a great deal of mischief, but still he 
is Lord Vere. Well, of course, you can invite Vere.' 

* There is another fellow I should like to ask very 
much,' said Coningsby, * if Lord Monmouth would 
not think I was asking too many.' 

' Never fear that ; he sent me particularly to tell 
you to invite as many as you liked.' 

' Well then, I should like to ask Millbank.' 

'Millbank!' said Mr. Rigby a little excited, and 
then he added : ' Is that a son of Lady Albinia Mil^ 
bank.' fl 

' No; his mother is not a Lady Albinia, but he i§^ 
a great friend of mine. His father is a Lancashic™ 
manufacturer.' ^H 

' By no means,' exclaimed Mr. Rigby quSe^ 
agitated. ' There is nothing in the world that Lord 
Monmouth dislikes so much as Manchester manu- 
facturers, and particularly if they bear the name of 
Millbank. It must not be thought of, my dear ' 
Harry. I hope you have not spoken to the young | 
man on the subject. I assure you it is quite out of 1 
the question. It would make Lord Monmoufb 
quite ill. It would spoil everything; quite ups^ 
him.' 

It was, of course, impossible for Coningsby 
urge his wishes against such representations. 

72 



Chapter XI CONINGSBY 

was disappointed — rather amazed ; but Madame 
Colonna having sent for him to introduce her to some 
of the scenes and details of Eton life, his vexation 
was soon absorbed in the pride of acting in the face 
of his companions as the cavalier of a beautiful lady, 
and becoming the cicerone of the most brilliant party 
that had attended Montem. He presented his 
friends, too, to Lord Monmouth, who gave them a 
most cordial invitation to dine with him at his hotel 
at Windsor, which they most warmly accepted. 
Buckhurst delighted the Marquess by his reckless 
genius. Even Lucretia deigned to appear amused; 
especially when on visiting the upper school, the 
name of Cardiff, the title Lord Monmouth bore in 
his youthful days, was pointed out to her by Con- 
ingsby, cut with his grandfather's own knife on the 
classic panels of that memorable wall in which scar- 
cely a name that has flourished in our history, since 
the commencement of the eighteenth century, may 
not be observed with curious admiration. 

It was the humour of Lord Monmouth that the 
boys should be entertained with the most various 
and delicious banquet that luxury could devise, or 
money could command. For some days beforehand, 
orders had been given for the preparation of this 
festival. Our friends did full justice to their 
Lucullus; Buckhurst especially, who gave his opinion 
on the most refined dishes with all the intrepidity 
of saucy ignorance, and occasionally shook his head 
over a glass of Hermitage or Cote Rotie with a dis- 
satisfaction which a satiated Sybarite could not have 
exceeded. Considering all things, Coningsby and 
his friends exhibited a great deal of self-command; 
but they were gay, even to the verge of frolick. But 
then the occasion justified it, as much as their youth. 

73 



CONINGSBY Book I 

All were in high spirits. Madame Colonna declared 
that she had met nothing in England equal to 
Montem; that it was a Protestant Carnival; and 
that its only fault was that it did not last forty days. 
The Prince himself was all animation, and took wine 
with every one of the Etonians several times. All 
went on flowingly until Mr. Rigby contradicted 
Buckhurst on some point of Eton discipline, which 
Buckhurst would not stand. He rallied Mr. Rigby 
roundly, and Coningsby, full of Champagne, and 
owing Rigby several years of contradiction, followed 
up the assault. Lord Monmouth, who liked a butt, 
and had a weakness for boisterous gaiety, sHly 
encouraged the boys, till Rigby began to lose his 
temper and get noisy. 

The lads had the best of it; they said a great 
many funny things, and delivered themselves of 
several sharp retorts; whereas there was something 
ridiculous in Rigby putting forth his ' slashing ' 
talents against such younkers. However, he 
brought the infliction on himself by his strange 
habit of deciding on subjects of which he knew no- 
thing, and of always contradicting persons on the very 
subjects of which they were necessarily masters. 

To see Rigby baited was more amusement to Lord 
Monmouth, even than Montem. Lucian Gay, how- 
ever, when the ajffair was gettmg troublesome, came 
forward as a diversion. He sang an extemporaneous 
song on the ceremony of the day, and introduced 
the names of all the guests at the dinner, and of a 
great many other persons besides. This was capital ! 
The boys were in raptures, but when the singer 
threw forth a verse about Doctor Keate, the applause 
became uproarious. 

* Good bye, my dear Harry,' said Lord Mot 

74 



I 



Chapter XI CONINGSBY 

mouth, when he bade his grandson farewell. ' I am 
going abroad again; I cannot remain in this radical- 
ridden country. Remember, though I am away, 
Monmouth House is your home, — at least as long 
as it belongs to me. I understand my tailor has 
turned Liberal, and is going to stand for one of the 
metropolitan districts; a friend of Lord Durham; 
perhaps I shall find him in it when 1 return. I fear 
there are evil days for the new Generation!' 



75 



BOOK II 



CHAPTER I 



I 

It was early in November, 1834, and a large 

shooting party was assembled at Beaumanoir, the 
seat of that great nobleman, who was the father of 
Henry Sydney. England is unrivalled for two 
things — sporting and politics. They were combined 
at Beaumanoir; for the guests came not merely to 
slaughter the Duke's pheasants, but to hold council 
on the prospects of the party, which, it was supposed 
by the initiated, began at this time to indicate some 
symptoms of brightening. 

The success of the Reform Ministry on their 
first appeal to the new constituency which they 
had created, had been fatally complete. But the 
triumph was as destructive to the victors as to the 
vanquished. 

' We are too strong,' prophetically exclaimed one 
of the fortunate cabinet, which found itself sup- 
ported by an inconceivable majority of three hun- 
dred. It is to be hoped that some future publisher 
of private memoirs may have preserved some of the 
traits of that crude and short-lived Parliament, when 
old Cobbett insolently thrust Sir Robert from the 
prescriptive seat of the chief of opposition, 
treasury understrappers sneered at the ' queer 

7^ 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

that had arrived from Ireland, little foreseeing what 
a high bidding that ' queer lot ' would eventually 
command. Gratitude to Lord Grey was the hust- 
ings-cry at the end of 1832, the pretext that was to 
return to the new-modelled House of Commons 
none but men devoted to the Whig cause. The 
successful simulation, like everything that is false, 
carried within it the seeds of its own dissolution. 
Ingratitude to Lord Grey was more the fashion at the 
commencement of 1834, and before the close of that 
eventful year, the once popular Reform Ministry was 
upset, and the eagerly sought Reformed Parliament 
dissolved ! 

It can scarcely be alleged that the public was alto- 
gether unprepared for this catastrophe. Many 
deemed it inevitable; few thought it imminent. 
The career of the Ministry, and the existence of the 
Parliament, had indeed from the first been turbulent 
and fitful. It was known from authority, that there 
were dissensions in the cabinet; while a House of 
Commons which passed votes on subjects not less im- 
portant than the repeal of a tax, or the impeachment 
of a judge on one night, and rescinded its resolutions 
on the following, certainly established no increased 
claims to the confidence of its constituents in its dis- 
cretion. Nevertheless there existed at this period a 
prevalent conviction, that the Whig party by a great 
stroke of state, similar in magnitude and effect to 
that which in the preceding century had changed the 
dynasty, had secured to themselves the government 
of this country, for, at least, the lives of the present 
generation. And even the well informed in such 
matters were inclined to look upon the perplexing 
circumstances to which we have alluded, rather as 
symptoms of a want of discipline in a new system of 

77 



CONINGSBY Book II 

tactics, than as evidences of any essential and deeply- 
rooted disorder. 

The startling rapidity, however, of the strange in- 
cidents of 1834; the indignant, soon to become vitu- 
perative, secession of a considerable section of the 
cabinet, some of them esteemed too at that time 
among its most efficient members; the piteous depre- 
cation of ' pressure from without,' from lips hitherto 
deemed too stately for intreaty, followed by the 
Trades' Union thirty thousand strong, parading in— 
procession to Downing Street; the Irish negocia- 
tions of Lord Hatherton, strange blending of com- 
plex intrigue and almost infantile ingenuousness; the 
still inexplicable resignation of Lord Althorp, hur- 
riedly followed by his still more mysterious resump- 
tion of power, the only result of his precipitate move- 
ments being the fall of Lord Grey himself, attended 
by circumstances which even a friendly historian could 
scarcely describe as honourable to his party or digni- 
fied to himself; latterly, the extemporaneous address 
of King William to the bishops; the vagrant and 
grotesque Apocalypse of the Lord Chancellor; and 
the fierce recrimination and memorable defiance of 
the Edinburgh banquet ; all these impressii 
instances of public affairs and public conduct h\ 
combined to create a predominant opinion that, whj 
ever might be the consequences, the prolonged coi 
ti nuance of the present party in power was a clear 
impossibility. 

It is evident that the suicidal career of what was 
then styled the Liberal party, had been occasioned and 
stimulated by its unnatural excess of strength. The 
apoplectic plethora of 1834 was not less fatal than the 
paralytic tenuity of 184 1. It was not feasible to 
gratify so many ambitions, or to satisfy so mj 

78 



I 



lai^H 



Chapter 1 CONINGSBY 

expectations. Every man had his double; the heels 
of every placeman were dogged by friendly rivals 
ready to trip them up. There were even two cabi- 
nets; the one that met in council, and the one that 
met in cabal. The consequence of destroying the 
legitimate opposition of the country was, that a 
moiety of the supporters of government had to dis- 
charge the duties of Opposition. 

Herein then we detect the real cause of all that 
irregular and unsettled carriage of public men, which 
so perplexed the nation after the passing of the 
Reform Act. No government can be long secure 
without a formidable Opposition. It reduces their 
supporters to that tractable number which can be 
managed by the joint influences of fruition and of 
hope. It offers vengeance to the discontented and 
distinction to the ambitious; and employs the ener- 
gies of aspiring spirits, who otherwise may prove 
traitors in a division, or assassins in a debate. 

The general election of 1832 abrogated the Par- 
liamentary Opposition of England, which had prac- 
tically existed for more than a century and a half. 
And what a series of equivocal transactions and 
mortifying adventures did the withdrawal of this 
salutary restraint entail on the party which then so 
loudly congratulated themselves and the country, 
that they were at length relieved from its odious 
repression ! In the hurry of existence one is apt too 
generally to pass over the political history of the 
times in which we ourselves live. The two years 
that followed the Reform of the House of Commons 
are full of instruction on which a young m.an would 
do well to ponder. It is hardly possible that he could 
rise from the study of these annals without a con- 
firmed disgust for political intrigue ; a dazzling 

79 



CONINGSBY Book II 

practice, apt at first to fascinate youth, for it appeals 
at once to our invention and our courage, but which 
really should only be the resource of the second-rate. 
Great minds must trust to great truths and great 
talents for their rise, and nothing else. 

While, however, as the autumn of 1834 advanced, 
the people of this country became gradually sensible 
of the necessity of some change in the councils of 
their Sovereign; no man felt capable of predicting 
by what means it was to be accomplished, or from 
what quarry the new materials were to be extracted. 
The Tory party, according to these perverted views 
oF_Toryism unhappily too long prevalent in this 
country, was held to be literally defunct, except by a 
few old battered crones of office crouched round the 
embers of faction which they were fanning, and mut- 
tering ' re-action ' in mystic whispers. It cannot be 
supposed, indeed, for a moment, that the distin 
guished personage who had led that party in t 
House of Commons previously to the passing of t 
act of 1832, ever despaired in consequence of h 
own career. His then time of life, the perfectio 
almost the prime, of manhood; his parliamenta 
practice, doubly estimable in an inexperienc 
assembly; his political knowledge; his fair charact 
and reputable position; his talents and tone as a publi 
speaker, which he had always aimed to adapt to the 
habits and culture of that middle class from which 
it was concluded the benches of the new Parliament 
were mainly to be recruited — all these were qualities, 
the possession of which must have assured a mind, 
not apt to be disturbed in its calculations by any 
intemperate heats, that with time and patience the 
game was yet for him. 

Unquestionably, whatever may have been insinu 

80 



I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 



atedj this distinguished person had no inkling that 
his services in 1834 might be claimed by his 
Sovereign. At the close of the session of that year 
he had quitted England with his family and had 
arrived at Rome, where it was his intention to pass 
the winter. The party charges that have imputed to 
him a previous and sinister knowledge of the inten- 
tions of the Court, appear to have been made not only 
in ignorance of the personal character, but of the real 
position, of the future minister. 

It had been the misfortune of this eminent gentle- 
man when he first entered public life, to become 
identified with a political connexion, which having 
arrogated to itself the name of an illustrious histori- 
cal party, pursued a policy, which was either founded 
on no principle whatever, or on principles exactly 
contrary to those which had always guided the con- 
duct of the great Tory leaders. The chief members 
of this ofi^cial confederacy were men distinguished 
by none of the conspicuous qualities of statesmen. 
They had none of the divine gifts that govern senates 
and guide councils. They were not orators; they 
were not men of deep thought or happy resource; or 
of penetrative and sagacious minds. Their political 
ken was essentially dull and contracted. They ex- 
pended some energy in obtaining a defective blunder- 
ing acquaintance with foreign affairs; they knew as 
little of the real state of their own country as savages 
of an approaching eclipse. This factious league had 
shuffled themselves into power by clinging to the 
skirts of a great minister, the last of Tory statesmen, 
but who, in the unparalleled and confounding emer- 
gencies of his latter years, has been forced, unfortun- 
ately for England, to relinquish Toryism. His suc- 
cessors inherited all his errors without the latent 
F 8i 



CONINGSBY Book II 

genius, which in him might have still rallied and 
extricated him from the consequences of his disasters. ■ 
His successors did not merely inherit his errors; they 
exaggerated, they caricatured them. They rode into 
power on a spring-tide of all the rampant prejudices 
and rancorous passions of their time. From the 
King to the boor their policy was a mere pandering 
to public ignorance. Impudently usurping the name 
of that party of which nationality, and therefore 
universality, is the essence, these pseudo-Tories 
made Exclusion the principle of their political con- 
stitution, and Restriction the genius of their com- 
mercial code. 

The blind goddess that plays with human fortunes 
has mixed up the memory of these men with tradi- 
tions of national glory. They conducted to a pros- 
perous conclusion the most renowned war in which 
England has ever been engaged. Yet every military 
conception that emanated from their cabinet was 
branded by their characteristic want of grandeur. 
Chance, however, sent them a great military genius, 
whom they treated for a long time with indifference; 
and whom they never heartily supported until his 
career had made him their master. His transcendent 
exploits and European events, even greater than his 
achievements, placed in the manikin grasp of the 
English ministry — the settlement of Europe. 

The act of the Congress of Vienna remains the ; 
eternal monument of their diplomatic knowledge and 
political sagacity. Their capital feats were the crea- 
tion of two kingdoms, both of which are already 
erased from the map of Europe. They made no 
single preparation for the inevitable, almost impend- 
ing, conjunctures of the East. All that remains of 
the pragmatic arrangements of the mighty Congress , 

82 



i 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

of Vienna is the mediatisation of the petty German 
Princes. 

But the settlement of Europe by the pseudo- 
Tories was the dictate of inspiration compared with 
their settlement of England. The peace of Paris 
found the government of this country in the hands 
of a body of men, of whom it is no exaggeration to 
say that they were ignorant of every principle of 
every branch of political science. As long as our 
domestic administration was confined merely to the 
raising of a revenue, they levied taxes with gross 
facility from the industry of a country too busy to 
criticise or complain. But when the excitement and 
distraction of war had ceased, and they were forced 
to survey the social elements that surrounded them; 
they seemed, for the first time, to have become con- 
scious of their own incapacity. These men, indeed, 
were the mere children of routine. They prided 
themselves on being practical men. In the language 
of this defunct school of statesmen, a practical man is 
a man who practises the blunders of his predecessors. 

Now commenced that Condition of England Ques- ' 
tion, of which our generation hears so much. Dur- 
ing five-and-twenty years every influence that can 
develop the energies and resources of a nation had 
been acting with concentrated stimulation on the 
British Isles. National peril and national glory; the 
perpetual menace of invasion, the continual triumph 
of conquest; the most extensive foreig^n commerce 
that was ever conducted by a single nation; an illimi- 
table currency; an internal trade supported by swarm- 
ing millions, whom manufactures and inclosure bills 
summoned into existence; above all, the supreme 
control obtained by man over mechanic power; these 
are some of the causes of that rapid advance of 

^3 



CONINGSBY Book II 

material civilization in England, to which the annals 
of the world can afford no parallel. But there was 
no proportionate advance in our moral civilization. 
In the hurry-scurry of money-making, men-making 
and machine-making, we had altogether outgrown, 
not the spirit, but the organization, of our institu- 
tions. 

The peace came; the stimulating influences sud- 
denly ceased; the people, in a novel and painful 
position, found themselves without guides. They 
went to the ministry; they asked to be guided; they 
asked to be governed. Commerce requested a code; 
trade required a currency; the unfranchised subject 
solicited his equal privilege ; suffering labour 
clamoured for its rights; a new race demanded educa- \ 
tion. What did the Ministry do .? M 

They fell into a panic. Having fulfilled during 
their lives the duties of administration, they were 
frightened because they were called upon, for the 
first time, to perform the functions of government. 
Like all weak men, they had recourse to what they 
called strong measures. They determined to put 
down the multitude. They thought they were 
imitating Mr. Pitt, because they mistook disorganiza- 
tion for sedition. 

Their projects of relief were as ridiculous as their 
system of coercion was ruthless; both were alike 
founded in intense ignorance. When we recall Mr. 
Vansittart with his currency resolutions; Lord Castle- 
reagh with his plans for the employment of labour; 
and Lord Sidmouth with his plots for ensnaring the 
laborious; one is tempted to imagine that the present 
epoch has been one of peculiar advances in political 
ability, and marvel how England could have attained 
her present pitch under a series of such governors. 

84 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

^1 We should, however, be labouring under a very 

erroneous impression. Run over the statesmen that 

have figured in England since the accession of the 

present family, and we may doubt whether there be 

i one, with the exception, perhaps, of the Duke of 

j Newcastle, who would have been a worthy colleague 

of the councils of Mr. Percival, or the early cabinet 

I of Lord Liverpool. Assuredly the genius of Boling- 

i broke and the sagacity of Walpole, would have alike 

; recoiled from such men and such measures. And if 

I we take the individuals who were governing England 

i immediately before the French Revolution, one need 

I only to refer to the speeches of Mr. Pitt, and especi- 

I ally to those of that profound statesman and most 

I instructed man. Lord Shelburne, to find that we can 

I boast no remarkable superiority either in political 

; justice or in political economy. One must attribute 

I this degeneracy, therefore, to the long war and our 

i insular position, acting upon men naturally of inferior 

' abilities, and unfortunately, in addition, of illiterate 

habits. 

Th the meantime, notwithstanding all the efforts 
of the political Panglosses who, in Evening Journals 
and Quarterly Reviews, were continually proving 
that this was the best of all possible governments, 
it was evident to the Ministry itself that the machine 
must stop. The class of Rigbys, indeed, at this 
period, one eminently favourable to that fungous 
tribe, greatly distinguished themselves. They 
demonstrated in a mxanner absolutely convincing, that 
it was impossible for any person to possess any ability, 
knowledge, or virtue, any capacity of reason, any ray 
of fancy or faculty of imagination, who was not a 
supporter of the existing administration. If any one 
impeached the management of a department, the 

85 



CONINGSBY Book II 

public was assured that the accuser had embezzled; 
if any one complained of the conduct of a colonial 
governor, the complainant was announced as a 
returned convict. An amelioration of the criminal 
code was discountenanced because a search in the 
parish register of an obscure village proved that the 
proposer had not been born in wedlock. A relaxa- 
tion of the commercial system was denounced be- 
cause one of its principal advocates was a Socinian. 
The inutility of Parliamentary Reform was ever 
obvious since Mr. Rigby was a Member of the 
House of Commons. 

To us, with our ' Times ' newspaper every morn- 
ing on our breakfast table, bringing on every subject 
which can interest the public mind a degree of infor- 
mation and intelligence which must form a security 
against any prolonged public misconception, it seems 
incredible that only five and twenty years ago the 
English mind could have been so ridden and hood- 
winked, and that too by men of mean attainments 
and moderate abilities. But the war had directed the 
energies of the English people into channels by no 
means favourable to political education. Conquerors^ 
of the world, with their ports filled with the shipping 
of every clime, and their manufactories supplying the 
European continent, in the art of self-government, 
that art in which their fathers excelled, they had 
become literally children; and Rigby and his brother 
hirelings were the nurses that frightened them with 
hideous fables and ugly words. 

Notwithstanding, however, all this successful 
mystification, the Arch-Mediocrity who presided, 
rather than ruled, over this Cabinet of Mediocrities, 
became hourly more conscious that the inevitable, 
transition from fulfilling the duties of an adminisi 

86 



I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

tion to performing the functions of a government 
could not be conducted without talents and know- 
ledge. The Arch-Mediocrity had himself some 
glimmering traditions of political science. He was 
sprung from a laborious stock, had received some 
training, and though not a statesman, might be 
classed among those whom the Lord Keeper W iUiams 
used to call ' statemongers.' In a subordinate posi- 
tion his meagre diligence and his frigid method might 
not have been v/ithout value; but the qualities that 
he possessed were misplaced; nor can any character 
be conceived less invested with the happy properties 
of a leader. Iji the conduct of public affairs, his dis- 
position was exactly the reverse to that which is the 
characteristic of great men. He was peremptory in 
little questions, and great ones he left open. 

In the natural course of events, in 1819 there 
ought to have been a change of government and 
another party in the state should have entered into 
office; but the Whigs, though they counted in 
their ranks at that period an unusual number of men 
of great ability and formed indeed a compact and 
spirited opposition, were unable to contend against 
the new adjustment of borough influence which had 
occurred during the war, and under the protracted 
administration by which that war had been conducted. 
New families had arisen on the Tory side that almost 
rivalled old Newcastle himself in their electioneering 
management; and it was evident that unless some 
re-construction of the House of Commons could be 
effected, the Whig party could never obtain a per- 
manent hold of official power. Hence, from that 
period, the Whigs became Parliamentary Reformers. 

It was inevitable, therefore, that the country should 
be governed by the same party; indispensable that 

87 



CONINGSBY Book II 

the ministry should be renovated by new brains and 
blood. Accordingly, a Mediocrity, not without 
repugnance, was induced to withdraw, and the great 
name of Wellington supplied his place in council. 
The talents of the Duke, as they were then under- 
stood, were not exactly of the kind most required by 
the cabinet, and his colleagues were most careful that 
he should not occupy too prominent a post; but still 
it was an impressive acquisition, and imparted to the 
ministry a semblance of renown. 

There was an individual who had not long entered 
public life, but who had already filled considerable, 
though still subordinate, offices. Having acquired a 
certain experience of the duties of administration and 
distinction for his mode of fulfilling them, he had 
withdrawn from his public charge; perhaps because 
he found it a barrier to the attainment of that parlia- 
mentary reputation for which he had already shown 
both a desire and a capacity ; perhaps, because 
being young and independent, he was not over 
anxious irremediably to identify his career with 
a school of politics of the infallibility of which 
his experience might have already made him 
a little sceptical. But he possessed the talents 
that were absolutely wanted, and the terms 
were at his own dictation. Another and a very 
distinguished Mediocrity who would not resign, was 
thrust out; and Mr. Peel became Secretary of State. 

From this moment dates that intimate connexion 
between the Duke of Wellington and the present 
First Minister, which has exercised a considerable 
influence over the career of individuals and the course 
of afl'airs. It was the sympathetic result of superior 
minds placed among inferior intelligencies : and was, 
doubtless, assisted by a then mutual conviction, tl 

SS 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

the difference of age, the circumstance of sitting in 
different houses, and the general contrast of their 
previous pursuits and accomplishments, rendered 
personal rivalry out of the question. From this 
moment, too, the domestic government of the coun- 
try assumed a new character, and one universally 
admitted to have been distinguished by a spirit of 
enlightened progress and comprehensive ameliora- 
tion. 

A short time after this, a third and most distin- 
guished Mediocrity died; and Canning, whom they 
had twice worried out of the cabinet, where they had 
tolerated him for some time in an obscure and am- 
biguous position, was recalled just in time from his 
impending banishment, installed in the first post in 
the Lower House and intrusted with the seals of the 
Foreign Office. The Duke of Wellington had 
coveted them, nor could Lord Liverpool have been 
insensible to his Grace's peculiar fitness for such 
duties; but strength was required in the House of 
Commons, where they had only one Secretary of 
State, a young man already distinguished, yet untried 
as a leader and surrounded by colleagues notoriously 
incapable to assist him in debate. 

The accession of Mr. Canning to the cabinet, in a 
position too of surpassing influence, soon led to a 
further weeding of the Mediocrities, and among 
other introductions to the memorable entrance of Mr. 
Huskisson. In this wise did that cabinet, once 
notable only for the absence of all those qualities 
which authorize the possession of power, come to 
be generally esteemed as a body of men, who for 
parliamentary eloquence, oflFicial practice, political 
information, sagacity in council, and a due under- 
standing of their epoch, were inferior to none that 

89 



CONINGSBY Book II 

had directed the policy of the empire since the 
Revolution. 

If we survey the tenour of the policy of the Liver- 
pool Cabinet during the latter moiety of its continu- 
ance, we shall find its characteristic to be a partial 
recurrence to those frank principles of government 
which Mr. Pitt had revived during the latter part of 
the last century from precedents that had been set 
us, either in practice or in dogma, during its earlier 
period by statesmen, who then not only bore the 
title, but professed the opinions, of Tories. Exclu- 
sive principles in the constitution and restrictive 
principles in commerce have grown up together; and 
have really nothing in common with the ancient 
character of our political settlement, or the manners 
and customs of the English people. Confidence in 
the loyalty of the nation, testified by munificent 
grants of rights and franchises, and favour to an 
expansive system of traffic, were distinctive qualities 
of the English sovereignty, uKtil the House 
Commons usurped the better portion of its preroga 
tives. A widening of our electoral scheme, great 
facilities to commerce, and the rescue of our Rom 
Catholic fellow-subjects from the Puritanic yok 
from fetters which have been fastened on them 
English Parliaments in spite of the protests am 
exertions of English Sovereigns; these were the 
three great elements and fundamental truths of the 
real Pitt system — a system founded on the traditions 
of our monarchy, and caught from the writings, the 
speeches, the councils, of those who, for the sake of 
these and analogous benefits, had ever been anxious 
that the Sovereign of England should never be 
degraded into the position of a Venetian Doge. 

It is in the plunder of the Church that we mu 

90 



iat 

I 



I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

seek for the primary cause of our political exclusion, 
and our commercial restraint. That unhallowed booty 
created a factitious aristocracy, ever fearful that they 
might be called upon to re-gorge their sacrilegious 
spoil. To prevent this they took refuge in political 
religionism, and paltering with the disturbed con- 
sciences or the pious fantasies of a portion of the 
people, they organized them into religious sects. 
These became the unconscious Proetorians of their 
ill-gotten domains. At the head of these religionists, 
they have continued ever since to govern, or power- 
fully to influence, this country. They have in that 
time pulled down thrones and churches, changed 
dynasties, abrogated and remodelled parliaments; 
they have disfranchised Scotland, and confiscated 
Ireland. One may admire the vigour and consist- 
ency of the Whig party, and recognize in their career 
that unity of purpose that can only spring from a 
great principle; but the Whigs introduced sectarian 
religion, sectarian religion led to political exclusion, 
and political exclusion was soon accompanied by 
commercial restraint. 

It would be fanciful to assume that the Liverpool 
Cabinet, in their ameliorating career, was directed by 
any desire to recur to the primordial tenets of the 
Tory party. That was not an epoch when statesmen 
cared to prosecute the investigation of principles. It 
was a period of happy and enlightened practice. A 
profounder policy is the offspring of a time like the 
present, when the original postulates of institutions 
are called in question. The Liverpool Cabinet un- 
consciously approximated to these opinions, because 
from careful experiment they were convinced of their 
beneficial tendency, and they thus bore an uninten- 
tional and impartial testimony to their truth. Like 

91 



CONINGSBY Book II 

many men, who think they are inventors, they were 
only reproducing ancient wisdom. 

But one must ever deplore that this ministry, with 
all their talents and generous ardour, did not advance 
to principles. It is always perilous to adopt expedi- 
ency as a guide; but the choice may be sometimes 
imperative. But these statesmen took expediency 
for their director, when principle would have given 
them all that expediency insured, and much more. 

This ministry, strong in the confidence of the 
sovereign, the parliament, and the people, might, by 
the courageous promulgation of great historical 
truths, have gradually formed a public opinion, that 
would have permitted them to organize the Tory 
party on a broad, a permanent and national basis. 
They might have nobly effected a complete settle- 
ment of Ireland, which a shattered section of this 
very cabinet was forced a few years after to do parti- 
ally, and in an equivocating and equivocal manner. 
They might have concluded a satisfactory re-con 
struction of the third estate, without producing th 
convulsion with which from its violent fabrication o 
social system still vibrates. Lastly, they might hav 
adjusted the rights and properties of our nation 
industries in a manner which would have prevente 
that fierce and fatal rivalry that is now disturbing 
every hearth of the United Kingdom. 

We may therefore visit on the laches of this 
ministry the introduction of that new principle and 
power into our constitution which ultimately may 
absorb all — Agitation. This Cabinet then, with so 
much brilliancy on its surface, is the real parent of the 
Roman Catholic Association, the Political Unions, 
the Anti-Corn Law League. 

There is no influence at the same time so powerfi 

92 



1 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

and so singular as that of individual character. It 
arises as ofien from the weakness of the character as 
from its strength. The dispersion of this clever and 
showy ministry is a fine illustration of this truth. 
One morning the Arch- Mediocrity himself died. At 
the first blush, it would seem that little difficulty 
could be experienced in finding his substitute. His 
long occupation of the post, proved at any rate that 
the qualification was not excessive. But this cabinet 
with its serene and blooming visage had been all this 
time charged with fierce and emulous ambitions. 
They waited the signal, but they waited in grim 
repose. The death of the nominal leader, whose 
formal superiority, wounding no vanity and offend- 
ing no pride, secured in their councils equality among 
the able, was the tocsin of their anarchy. There 
existed in this Cabinet two men, who were resolved 
immediately to be prime ministers; a third who was 
resolved eventually to be prime minister, but would, 
at any rate occupy no ministerial post, without the 
lead of a House of Parliament ; and a fourth, who 
felt himself capable of being prime minister, but 
despaired of the revolution which could alone make 
him one; and who found an untimely end when that 
revolution had arrived. 

Had Mr. Secretary Canning remained leader of 
the House of Commons under the Duke of Welling- 
ton, all that he gained by the death of Lord Liverpool 
was a master. Had the Duke of Wellington become 
Secretary of State under Mr. Canning, he would 
have materially advanced his political position, not 
only by holding the seals of a high department in 
which he was calculated to excel, but by becoming 
leader of the House of Lords. But his Grace was 
induced by certain court intriguers to believe that 

93 



CONINGSBY Book II 

the King would send for him, and he was also aware 
that Mr. Peel would no longer serve under any 
minister in the House of Commons. Under any 
circumstances it would have been impossible to keep 
the Liverpool Cabinet together. The struggle there- 
fore between the Duke of Wellington and ' my dear 
Mr. Canning,' was internecine, and ended somewhat 
unexpectedly. 

And here we must stop to do justice to our friend 
Mr. Rigby, whose conduct on this occasion was dis- 
tinguished by a bustling dexterity which was quite 
charmjng. He had, as we have before intimated, on 
the credit of some clever lampoons written during 
the Queen's trial, which were in fact the effusions 
of I.ucian Gay, wriggled himself into a sort of 
occasional unworthy favour at the palace, where he 
was half butt and half buffoon. Here, during the 
interregnum occasioned by the death, or rather inevi- 
table retirement, of Lord Liverpool, Mr. Rigby con- 
trived to scrape up a conviction that the Duke wa 
the winning horse, and in consequence there appeare 
a series of leading articles in a notorious evenin 
newspaper in which it was, as Tadpole and Tap^ 
declared, most ' slashingly ' shown, that the son o 
an actress could never be tolerated as the Prim^ 
Minister of England. Not content with this, and 
never doubting for a moment the authentic basis of 
his persuasion, Mr. Rigby poured forth his coarse 
volubility on the subject at several of the new clubs 
which he was getting up in order to revenge himself 
for having been blackballed at White's. 

What with arrangements about Lord Monmouth's 
boroughs, and the lucky bottling of some claret which 
the Duke had imported on Mr. Rigby's recommenda- 
tion, this distinguished gentleman contrived to pa 

94 



I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 



almost hourly visits at Apsley House, and so bullied 
Tadpole and Taper that they scarcely dared address 
him. About four and twenty hours before the 
result, and when it was generally supposed that the 
Duke was in, Mr. Rigby, who had gone down to 
Windsor to ask his Majesty the date of some obscure 
historical incident, which Rigby of course very well 
knew, found that audiences were impossible, that 
his Majesty was agitated, and learned from an 
humble, but secure authority, that in spite of all 
his slashing articles and Lucian Gay's parodies 
of the Irish melodies, Canning was to be Prime 
Minister. 

This would seem something of a predicament to 
common minds; there are no such things as scrapes 
for gentlemen with Mr. Rigby's talents for action. 
He had indeed in the world the credit of being an 
adept in machinations, and was supposed ever to be 
involved in profound and complicated contrivances. 
This was quite a mistake. There was nothing pro- 
found about Mr. Rigby; and his intellect was totally 
incapable of devising or sustaining an intricate or 
continuous scheme. He was indeed a man who 
neither felt nor thought; but who possessed in a 
very remarkable degree a restless instinct for adroit 
baseness. On the present occasion, he got into his 
carriage and drove at the utmost speed from Windsor 
to the Foreign Office. The Secretary of State was 
engaged when he arrived ; but Mr. Rigby would 
listen to no difficulties. He rushed upstairs, flung 
open the door, and with a£»-itated countenance, and 
eyes suffused with tears, threw himself into the arms 
of the astonished Mr. Canning. 

' All is right,' exclaimed the devoted Rigby, in 
broken tones; ' I have convinced the King that 

95 



CONINGSBY Book II 

the First Minister must be in the House of 
Commons. No one knows it but myself ; but it 
is certain.' 

We have seen that at an early period of his career, 
Mr. Peel withdrew from official life. His course had 
been one of unbroken prosperity; the hero of the 
University had become the favourite of the House of 
Commons. His retreat, therefore, was not prompted 
by chagrin. Nor need it to have been suggested by 
a calculating ambition, for the ordinary course of 
events was fast bearing to him all to which man could 
aspire. One might rather suppose, that he had 
already gained sufficient experience, perhaps in his 
Irish Secretaryship, to make him pause in that career 
of superficial success which education and custom 
had hitherto chalked out for him, rather than the 
creative energies of his own mind. A thoughtful 
intellect may have already detected elements in our 
social system which required a finer observation, and 
a more unbroken study, than the gyves and trammels 
of office would permit. He may have discover 
that the representation of the University, look 
upon in those days as the blue ribbon of the Hou 
of Commons, was a sufficient fetter without unnece 
sarily adding to its restraint. He may have wish 
to reserve himself for a happier occasion, and a more 
progressive period. He may have felt the strong 
necessity of arresting himself in his rapid career of 
felicitous routine, to survey his position in calmness, 
and to comprehend the stirring age that was 
approaching. 

For that he could not but be conscious that the 
education which he had consummated, however 
ornate and refined, was not sufficient. That age of 
economical statesmanship which Lord Shelburne had 

96 



I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

predicted in 1787, when he demolished in the House 
of Lords Bishop Watson and the Balance of Trade; 
which Mr. Pitt had comprehended, and for which he 
was preparing the nation when the French Revolu- 
tion diverted the public mind into a stronger and 
more turbulent current, was again impending, while 
the intervening history of the country had been 
prolific in events which had aggravated the necessity 
of investigating the sources of the wealth of nations. 
The time had arrived when parliamentary pre-emin- 
ence could no longer be achieved or maintained by 
gorgeous abstractions borrowed from Burke, shallow 
systems purloined from De Lolme, adorned with 
Horatian points, or varied with Virgilian passages. 
It was to be an age of abstruse disquisition, that 
required a compact and sinewy intellect, nurtured in 
a class of learning not yet honoured in Colleges, and 
which might arrive at conclusions conflicting with 
predominant prejudices. 

Adopting this view of the position of Mr. Peel, 
strengthened as it is by his early withdrawal for 
awhile from the direction of public affairs, it may not 
only be a charitable, but a true estimate of the 
motives which influenced him in his conduct towards 
Mr. Canning, to conclude that he has not guided 
in that transaction by the disingenuous rivalry usually 
imputed to him. His statement in Parliament of 
the determining circumstances of his conduct, 
coupled with his subsequent and almost immediate 
policy, may perhaps always leave this a painful 
and ambiguous passage in his career, but in 
passing judgment on public men, it behoves us 
ever to take large and extended views of their con- 
duct; and previous incidents will often satisfactorily 
explain subsequent events, which, without their 

G 97 



CONINGSBY Book II 

illustrating aid, are involved in misapprehension, or 
mystery. 

It would seem, therefore, that Sir Robert Peel 
from an early period meditated his emancipation 
from the political confederacy in which he was impli- 
cated, and that he has been continually baffled in 
this project. He broke loose from Lord Liverpool; 
he retired from Mr. Canning. Forced again into 
becoming the subordinate leader of the weakest 
government in Parliamentary annals, he believed he 
had at length achieved his emancipation, when he 
declared to his late colleagues after the overthrow of 
1830, that he would never again accept a secondary 
position in office. But the Duke of Wellington was 
too old a tactician to lose so valuable an ally. So his 
Grace declared after the Reform Bill was passed, as 
its inevitable result, that thenceforth the Prime 
Minister must be a member of the House of 
Commons, and this aphorism, cited as usual by the 
Duke's parasites as demonstration of his supreme 
sagacity, was a graceful mode of resigning the pre- 
eminence which had been productive of such great 
party disasters. It is remarkable that the party who 
devised and passed the Reform Bill, and y{h^ 
governed the nation in consequence for ten ye^H 
never once had their Prime Minister in the House 
of Commons; but that does not signify; the Duke's 
maxim is still quoted as an oracle almost equal in' | 
prescience to his famous query. How the King's 
Government was to be carried on? a question to 
which his Grace by this time has contrived to give a 
tolerably practical answer. 

Sir Robert Peel who had escaped from Lord Liver- 
pool, escaped from Mr. Canning, escaped even from 
the Duke of Wellington in 1832; was at length 

98 



I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

caught in 1834; the victim of ceaseless intriguers, 
who neither comprehended his position, nor that of 
their country. 

CHAPTER II 

Beaumanoir was one of those Palladian palaces, 
vast and ornate, such as the genius of Kent and 
Campbell delighted in at the beginning of the i8th 
century. Placed on a noble elevation, yet screened 
from the northern blast, its sumptuous front con- 
nected with its far-spreading wings by Corinthian 
colonnades, — was the boast and pride of the midland 
counties. The surrounding gardens, equalling in 
extent the size of ordinary parks, were crowded with 
temples dedicate to abstract virtues and to departed 
friends. Occasionally a triumphal arch celebrated a 
general whom the family still esteemed a hero; and 
sometimes a votive column commemorated the great 
statesman who had advanced the family a step in the 
peerage. Beyond the limits of this pleasance the 
hart and hind wandered in a wilderness abounding in 
ferny coverts and green and stately trees. 

The noble proprietor of this demesne had many 
of the virtues of his class : few of their failings. 
He had that public spirit which became his station. 
He was not one of those who avoided the exertions 
and the sacrifices, which should be inseparable from 
high position, by the hollow pretext of a taste for 
privacy, and a devotion to domestic joys. He was 
munificent, tender and bounteous to the poor, and 
loved a flowing hospitality. A keen sportsman, he 
was not untinctured by letters, and had, indeed, a 
cultivated taste for the fine arts. Though an ardent 
politician, he was tolerant to adverse opinions, and 
full of amenity to his opponents. A fir^^suppprter 

99 



CONINGSBY Book II 



of the cora kw3»Jie .nev^r refused A J^^l^. Notwith- 
"stanHmg there ran through his whole demeanour and 
the habit of his mind, a vein of native simplicity that 
was full of charm, his manner was finished. He 
never offended any one's self-love. His good 
breeding, indeed, sprang from the only sure source of 
"g^itle" manners — a kind heart. To have pained 
others would have pained himself. Perhaps too 
this noble sympathy may have been in some degree 
prompted by the ancient blood in his veins,^ an acci- 
dent of lineage rather rare with the English nobility. 
One could hardly praise him for the strong affections 
that bound him to his hearth, for fortune had given 
him the most pleasing family in the world; but, 
above all, a peerless wire. 

The Duchess was one of those women who are 
the delight of existence. She was sprung from a 
house not inferior to that with which she had blended, 
and was gifted with that rare beauty which time ever 
spares, so that she seemed now only the elder sister 
her own beautiful daughters. She too was distil 
guished by that_perfect good breeding which is 
result of nature and not of eHucation : for it m: 
be found in a cottage, and may be missed in a pala^ 
*Tis a genial regard for the feelings of others t 
springs from an absence of selfishness. The Duchess^ 
indeed, was in every sense a fine lady; her manners 
were refined and full of dignity; but nothing in the 
world could have induced her to appear bored when 
another was addressing or attempting to amuse her. 
She was not one of those vulgar fine ladies who meet 
you one day with a vacant stare as if unconscious of 
your existence, and address you on another in a tone 
of impertinent familiarity. Her temper, indeed, was 
somewhat quiclc, which made this consideration ft 



[OO 



I 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

the feelings of others still more admirable, for it was 
the result of a strict moral discipline acting on a good 
heart. Although the best of wives and mothers, she 
had some charity for her neighbours. Needing her- 
self no indulgence, she could be indulgent; and 
would by no means favour that straight-laced 
morality that would constrain the innocent play of 
the social body. She was accomplished, well read, 
and had a lively fancy. Add to this that sunbeam 
of a happy home, a gay and cheerful spirit in its 
mistress, and one might form some faint idea of this 
gracious personage. 

The eldest son of this house was now on the con- 
tinent; of his two younger brothers, one was with 
his regiment, and the other was Coningsby's friend 
at Eton, our Henry Sydney. The two eldest 
daughters had just married, on the same day, and at 
the same altar; and the remaining one, Theresa, was 
still a child. 

The Duke had occupied a chief post in the house- 
hold under the late administration, and his present 
guests chiefly consisted of his former colleagues in 
office. There were several members of the late 
cabinet, several members of his Grace's late boroughs, 
looking very much like martyrs, full of suffering and 
of hope. Mr. Tadpole and Mr. Taper were also 
there; they too had lost their seats since 1832; but 
being men of business, and accustomed from early 
life to look about them, they had already commenced 
the combinations which on a future occasion were to 
bear them back to the assembly where they were so 
missed. 

Taper had his eye on a small constituency which 
had escaped the fatal schedules, and where he had 
what they called a ' connexion ;' that is to say, a 

101 



CONINGSBY Book II 



section of the suffrages who had a lively remembrance 
of Treasury favours once bestowed by Mr. Taper, 
and who had not been as liberally dealt with by the 
existing powers. This connexion of Taper was in 
time to leaven the whole mass of the constituent 
body, and make it rise in full rebellion against its 
present liberal representative, who, being one of a 
majority of three hundred, could get nothing when 
he called at Whitehall, or Downing Street. 

Tadpole, on the contrary, who was of a larger 
grasp of mind than Taper, with more of imagination 
and device, but not so safe a man, was coquetting 
with a manufacturing town and a large constituency, 
where he was to succeed by the aid of the Wesleyans, 
of which pious body Tadpole had suddenly become 
a most fervent admirer. The great Mr. Rigby too 
was a guest, out of Parliament, nor caring to be in; 
but hearing that his friends had some hopes, he 
thought he would just come down to dash them. 

The political grapes were sour for Mr. Rigby; a 
prophet of evil, he preached only mortification a^HI 
repentance and despair to his late colleagues. It -vJlff I 
the only satisfaction left Mr. Rigby, except assuri ng , 
the Duke that the finest pictures in his gallery wflM 
copies, and recommending him to pull down BeaxPI 
manoir, and rebuild it on a design with which Mr. 
Rigby would furnish him. 

The battue and the banquet were over; the ladies 
had withdrawn; and the butler placed a fresh bottle 
of claret on the table. 

* And you really think you could give us a ma- 
jority, Tadpole.?' said the Duke. ' ^ 

Mr. Tadpole with some ceremony took a memor- 
andum-book out of his pocket, amid the smiles and 
faint well-bred merriment of his friends. 



I 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

* Tadpole is nothing without his book,' whispered 
Lord Fitz-booby. 

' It is here,' said Mr. Tadpole, emphatically pat- 
ting his volume, ' a clear working majority of twenty- 
two.' 

* Near sailing, that ! ' cried the Duke. 

' A far better majority than the present govern- 
ment have,' said Mr. Tadpole. 

' There is nothing like a good small majority,' 
said Mr. Taper, ' and a good registration.' 

' Ay ! register, register, register ! ' said the Duke. 
' Those were immortal words.' 

' I can tell your Grace three far better ones,' said 
Mr. Tadpole with a self-complacent air. ' Object, 
object, object!' 

* You may register, and you may object,' said Mr. 
Rigby, ' but you will never get rid of Schedule A 
and Schedule B.' 

' But who could have supposed two years ago that 
affairs would be in their present position,' said Mr. 
Taper deferentially. 

' I foretold it,' said Mr. Rigby. ' Every one 
knows that no government now can last twelve- 
months.' 

' We may make fresh boroughs,' said Taper. 
* We have reached Shabbyton at the last registration 
under three hundred.' 

' And the Wesleyans ! ' said Tadpole. ' We never 
counted on the Wesleyans ! ' 

' I am told those Wesleyans are really a very 
respectable body,' said Lord Fitz-booby. * I believe 
there is no very material difference between their 
tenets and those of the Establishment. I never 
heard of them much till lately. We have too long 
confounded them with the mass of the Dissenters, 

103 



CONINGSBY ^ooK II 



but their conduct at several of the latter elections 
proves that they are far from being unreasonable and 
disloyal individuals. When we come in, something 
should be done for the Wesleyans, eh, Rigby?' 

* All that your Lordship can do for the Wesleyans 
is what they will very shortly do for themselves — 
appropriate a portion of the Church Revenues to 
their own use.' 

' Nay, nay,' said Mr. Tadpole with a chuckle, ^ I 
don't think we shall find the Church attacked again 
in a hurry. I only wish they would try! A good 
Church cry before a registration,' he continued rub- 
bing his hands; ' eh, my Lord, I think that would 
do.' 

'But how are we to turn them out.^^' said the 
Duke. 

'Ah!' said Mr. Taper, ' that is a great question.' 

' What do you think of a repeal of the malt tax.?' 
said Lord Fitz-booby. ' They have been trying it 
on in — shire, and I am told it goes down very well.' 

* No repeal of any tax,' said Taper, sincerely 
shocked and shaking his head; ' and the malt-tax of 
all others. I am all against that.' 

' It is a very good cry though, if there be no other,' 
said Tadpole. 

' I am all for a religious cry,' said Taper. ' It 
means nothing, and if successful, does not interfere 
with business when we are in.' 

' You will have religious cries enough in a short 
time,' said Mr. Rigby, rather wearied of any one 
speaking but himself, and thereat he commenced a 
discourse, which was, in fact, one of his ' slashing ' 
articles in petto on Church Reform, and which 
abounded in parallels between the present affairs 
and those of the reign of Charles I. Tadpole who 

104 



I 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

did not pretend to know anything but the state of 
the registration, and Taper, whose political reading 
was confined to an intimate acquaintance with the 
Red Book and Beatson's Political Index, which he 
could repeat backwards, were silenced. The Duke, 
who was well instructed and liked to be talked to, 
sipped his claret and was rather amused by Rigby's 
lecture, particularly by one or two statements charac- 
terised by Rigby's happy audacity, but which the 
Duke was too indolent to question. Lord Fitz- 
Booby listened with his mouth open, but rather 
bored. At length when there was a momentary 
pause he said : 

' In my time, the regular thing was to move an 
amendment on the address.' 

' Quite out of the question,' exclaimed Tadpole 
with a scoff. 

' Entirely given up,' said Taper with a sneer. 

' If you will drink no more claret, we will go and 
hear some music,' said the Duke. 

CHAPTER III 

A BREAKFAST at Beaumanoir was a meal of some 
ceremony. Every guest was expected to attend, and 
at a somewhat early hour. Their host and hostess 
set them the example of punctuality. 'Tis an old 
form rigidly adhered to in some great houses, but it 
must be confessed does not contrast very agreeably 
with the easier arrangements of establishments of 
less pretension and of more modern order. 

The morning after the dinner to which we have 
been recently introduced, there was one individual 
absent from the breakfast table whose non-appearance 
could scarcely be passed over without notice; and 

105 



CONINGSBY Book II 

several inquired with some anxiety, whether their 
host were indisposed. 

* I'he Duke has received some letters from Lon- 
don which will detain him^' replied the Duchess. 
' He will join us.' 

' Your Grace will be glad to hear that your son 
Henry is very well,' said Mr. Rigby; * I heard of 
him this morning. Harry Coningsby enclosed me 
a letter for his grandfather, and tells me that he and 
Henry Sydney had just had a capital run with the 
King's hounds.' 

' It is three years since we have seen Mr. Con- 
ingsby,' said the Duchess. ' Once he was often here. 
He was a great favourite of mine. I hardly ever 
knew a more interesting boy.' 

' Yes, I have done a great deal for him,' said Mr. 
Rigby. ' Lord Monmouth is fond of him and 
wishes that he should make a figure; but how any 
one is to distinguish himself now, I really am at ^^ 
loss to comprehend.' ^^H 

' But are affairs so very bad ?' said the Duchess, 
smiling. ' I thought that we were all regaining o\ 
good sense and good temper.' 

' I believe all the good sense and all the go< 
temper in England are concentrated in your Grac< 
said Mr. Rigby very gallantly. 

' I should be sorry to be such a monopolist. Bui 
Lord Fitz-Booby was giving me last night quite a 
glowing report of Mr. Tadpole's prospects for the 
nation. We were all to have our own again; and 
Percy to carry the county.' 

* My dear Madam, before twelve months are past 
there will not be a county in England. Why should 
there be P If boroughs are to be disfranchised, whj 
should not counties be destroyed .f" 

1 06 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

At this moment the Duke entered, appar- 
ently agitated. He bowed to his guests and 
apologized for his unusual absence. ' The truth 
is,' he continued, ' I have just received a very 
important dispatch. An event has occurred which 
may materially affect affairs. Lord Spencer is 
dead.' 

A thunderbolt in the summer sky, as Sir William 
Temple says, could not have produced a greater sen- 
sation. The business of the repast ceased in a 
moment. The knives and forks were suddenly 
silent. All was still. 

* It is an immense event,' said Tadpole. 
' I don't see my way,' said Taper. 

' When did he die ?^ said Lord Fitz-Booby. 

' I don't believe it,' said Mr. Rigby. 

' They have got their man ready,' said Tadpole. 

* It is impossible to say what will happen,' said 
Taper. 

* Now is the time for an amendment on the 
address,' said Fitz-Booby. 

' There are two reasons which convince me that 
Lord Spencer is not dead,' said Mr. Rigby. 

' I fear there is no doubt of it,' said the Duke, 
shaking his head. 

' Lord Althorp was the only man who could keep 
them together,' said Lord Fitz-Booby. 

' On the contrary,' said Tadpole. ' If I be right in 
my man, and I have no doubt of it, you will have a 
radical programme and they will be stronger than 
ever.' 

' Do you think they can get the steam up again ?^ 
said Taper, musingly. 

' They will bid high,' said Tadpole. ' Nothing 
could be more unfortunate than this death. Things 

107 



CONINGSBY Book II 

were going on so well and so quietly! The Wes- 
leyans almost with us!' 

* And Shabbyton, too ! ' mournfully exclaimed 
Taper. ' Another registration and quiet times, and 
I could have reduced the constituency to two hun- 
dred and fifty.' 

^ If Lord Spencer had died on the loth,' said 
Rigby, ' it must have been known to Henry Rivers. 
And I have a letter from Henry Rivers by this post. 
Now, Althorp is in Northamptonshire, mark that, 
and Northamptonshire is a county — ' 

* My dear Rigby,' said the Duke, ' pardon me for 
interrupting you. Unhappily, there is no doubt 
Lord Spencer is dead, for I am one of his executors.' 

This announcement silenced even Mr. Rigby, and 
the conversation now entirely merged in speculations 
on what would occur. Numerous were the conjec- 
tures hazarded, but the prevailing impression was, 
that this unforeseen event might embarrass those 
secret expectations of Court succour in which a cer- 
tain section of the party had for some time reason 
to indulge. 

From the moment, however, of the announcement 
of Lord Spencer's death, a change might be visibly 
observed in the tone of the party at Beaumanoir. 
They became silent, moody, and restless. There 
seemed a general, though not avowed, conviction 
that a crisis of some kind or other was at hand. The 
post too brought letters every day from town teem- 
ing with fanciful speculations, and occasionally mys- 
terious hopes. 

' I kept this cover for Peel,' said the Duke pen- 
sively, as he loaded his gun on the morning of the 
14th. * Do you know, I was always against his 
going to Rome.f*' 

108 



i 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

' It is very odd,' said Tadpole, ' but I was thinking 
of the very same thing.' 

' It will be fifteen years before England will see a 
Tory Government,' said Mr. Rigby, drawing his 
ramrod, * and then it will only last five months.' 

' Melbourne, Althorp, and Durham — all in the 
Lords,' said Taper. ' Three leaders ! They must 
quarrel.' 

' If Durham come in, mark me, he will dissolve 
on Household Suffrage and the Ballot,' said Tadpole. 

* Not near as good a cry as Church,' replied Taper. 
' With the Malt Tax,' said Tadpole. ' Church 

will not do against Household Suffrage and Ballot 
without the Malt Tax.' 

' Malt Tax is madness,' said Taper. ' A good 
farmer's friend cry without Malt Tax, would work 
just as well.' 

* They will never dissolve,' said the Duke. * They 
are so strong.' 

* They cannot go on with three hundred majority,' 
said Taper. * Forty is as much as can be managed 
with open constituencies.' 

' If he had only gone to Paris instead of Rome!' 
said the Duke. 

' Yes,' said Mr. Rigby, ' I could have written to 
him then by every post, and undeceived him as to his 
position.' 

'After all, he is the only man,' said the Duke; 
' and I really believe the country thinks so.' 

* Pray, what is the country.?' inquired Mr. Rigby. 
'The country is nothing; it is the constituency you 
have to deal with.' 

' And to manage them you must have a good cry,' 
said Taper. ' All now depends upon a good cry.' 
' So much for the science of politics,' said the 
109 



CONINGSBY Book II 

Duke, bringing down a pKeasant. ' How Peel 
would have enjoyed this cover! ' 

' He will have plenty of time for sport during his 
life,' said Mr. Rigby. 

On the evening of the 15th of November, a 
despatch arrived at Beaumanoir, informing his Grace 
that the King had dismissed the Whig Ministry, 
and sent for the Duke of Wellington. Thus the 
first agitating suspense was over; to be succeeded 
however by expectation still more anxious. It was 
remarkable that every individual suddenly found that 
he had particular business in London which could 
not be neglected. The Duke very properly pleaded 
his executorial duties; but begged his guests on no 
account to be disturbed by his inevitable absence. 
Lord Fitz-booby had just received a letter from his 
daughter who was extremely indisposed at Brighton, 
and he was most anxious to reach her. Tadpole had 
to receive deputations from Wesleyans, and well- 
registered boroughs anxious to receive well-principled 
candidates. Taper was off to get the first job 
the contingent Treasury, in favour of the Boro 
of Shabbyton. Mr. Rigby alone was silent; but 
quietly ordered a post-chaise at daybreak, and lo _ 
before his fellow guests were roused from their 
slumbers, he was half-way to London, ready to give 
advice either at the Pavilion or Apsley House. 



piea 



CHAPTER IV 

Although it is far from improbable that, had Sir 
Robert Peel been in England in the autumn of 1834, 
the Whig government would not have been dis- 
missed ; nevertheless, whatever may be now the 
opinion of the policy of that measure; whether 



no 



I 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 



be looked on as a premature movement which neces- 
sarily led to the compact re-organization of the 
Liberal party, or as a great stroke of State, which, by 
securing at all events a dissolution of the Parliament 
of 1832, restored the healthy balance of parties in 
the Legislature; questions into which we do not 
now wish to enter; it must be generally admitted, 
that the conduct of every individual eminently con- 
cerned in that orreat historical transaction was 
characterized by the rarest and most admirable quality 
of public life — moral courage. The Sovereign who 
dismissed a Ministry apparently supported by an 
overwhelming majority in the Parliament and the 
nation, and called to his councils the absent chief of 
a parliamentary section, scarcely numbering at that 
moment one hundred and forty individuals, and of 
a party in the country supposed to be utterly dis- 
comfited by a recent revolution; the two ministers 
who in this absence provisionally administered the 
affairs of the kingdom in the teeth of an enraged 
and unscrupulous opposition, and perhaps themselves 
not sustained by a profound conviction, that the 
arrival of their expected leader would convert their 
provisional into a permanent position; above all, 
the statesman who accepted the great charge at a 
time and under circumstances which marred probably 
the deep projects of his own prescient sagacity and 
maturing ambition; were all men gifted with a high 
spirit of enterprise, and animated by that active forti- 
tude which is the soul of free governments. 

It was a lively season, that winter of 1834! 
What hopes, what fears, and what bets! From the 
day on which Mr. Hudson was to arrive at Rome to 
the election of the Speaker, not a contingency that 
was not the subject of a wager! The people sprang 



III 



CONINGSBY Book II 

up like mushrooms ; town suddenly became full. 
Everybody who had been in office, and everybody 
who wished to be in office; everybody who had ever 
had anything, and everybody who ever expected to 
have anything; were alike visible. All of course by 
mere accident; one might meet the same men regu- 
larly every day for a month, who were only passing 
through town. 

Now was the time for men to come forward who 
had never despaired of their country. True, they 
had voted for the Reform Bill, but that was to pre- 
vent a revolution. And now they were quite ready 
to vote against the Reform Bill, but this was to pre- 
vent a dissolution. These are the true patriots 
whose confidence in the good sense of their country- 
men and in their own selfishness is about equal. In 
the meantime, the hundred and forty threw a grim 
glance on the numerous waiters on Providence, and 
amiable trimmers, who affectionately inquired every 
day when news might be expected of Sir Robert. 
Though too weak to form a government, and havij 
contributed in no wise by their exertions to the 
of the late, the cohort of Parliamentary Tories f^ 
all the alarm of men, who have accidentally stumble 
on some treasure-trove, on the suspicious sympatl 
of their new allies. But after all, who were to forrrT 
the government, and what was the government to be ? , 
Was it to be a Tory government, or an Enlightened- ( 
Spirit of the Age, Liberal-Moderate-Reform govern- 
ment; was it to be a government of high philosophy 
or of low practice; of principle or of expediency; of I 
great measures or of little men ? A government of 
statesmen, or of clerks ? Of Humbug or of Hum- 
drum.? Great questions these, but unfortunately 
there was nobody to answer them. They tried the 

112 



ert. 

i 



I 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

Duke; but nothing could be pumped out of him. 
All that he knew, which he told in his curt husky 
manner was, that he had to carry on the King's 
government. As for his solitary colleague, he 
listened and smiled, and then in his musical voice 
asked them questions in return, which is the best 
possible mode of avoiding awkward inquiries. It 
was very unfair this; for no one knew what tone to 
take; whether they should go down to their public 
dinners and denounce the Reform Act, or praise it ; 
whether the Church was to be re-modelled or only 
admonished; whether Ireland was to be conquered 
or conciliated. 

* This can't go on much longer,' said Taper to 
Tadpole, as they reviewed together their electioneer- 
ing correspondence on the ist of December; 'We 
have no cry.' 

' He is half way by this time,' said Tadpole; 
' send an extract from a private letter to the Standard, 
dated Augsburg, and say he will be here in four 
days.' 

At last he came; the great man in a great position, 
summoned from Rome to govern England. The 
very day that he arrived, he had his audience with the 
King. 

It was two days after this audience; the town, 
though November, in a state of great excitement; 
clubs crowded, not only morning-rooms, but halls 
and staircases swarming with members eager to give 
and to receive rumours equally vain; streets lined 
with cabs and chariots, grooms and horses; it was 
two days after this audience that Mr. Ormsby, cele- 
brated for his political dinners, gave one to a very 
numerous party. Indeed his saloons to-day, during 
the half-hour of gathering which precedes dinner, 
« 113 



CONINGSBY Book II 

offered in the various groups, the anxious counten- 
ances, the inquiring voices, and the mysterious 
whispers, rather the character of an Exchange or 
Bourse than the tone of a festive society. 

Here might be marked a murmuring knot of grey- 
headed privy-counsellors who had held fat offices 
under Percival and Liverpool, and who looked back 
to the Reform Act as to a hideous dream; there 
some middle-aged aspirants might be observed who 
had lost their seats in the convulsion, but who 
flattered themselves they had done something for the 
party in the interval by spending nothing except their 
breath in fighting hopeless boroughs, and occasion- 
ally publishing a pamphlet, which really produced 
less effect than chalking the walls. Light as air, and 
proud as a young peacock, tripped on his toes a 
young Tory, who had contrived to keep his seat in 
a Parliament where he had done nothing, but who 
thought an Under Secretaryship was now secure, 
particularly as he was the son of a noble Lord who 
had also in a public capacity plundered and blundered 
in the good old time. The true political adven-^j 
turer, who with dull desperation had stuck ^H 
nothing, had never neglected a treasury note, Mrl 
been present at every division, never spoke when he 
was asked to be silent, and was always ready on any 
subject when they wanted him to open his mouth; , 
who had treated his leaders with servility even j 
behind their backs, and was happy for the day if a 
future Secretary of the Treasury bowed to him; who 
had not only discountenanced discontent in the party, 
but had regularly reported in strict confidence every 
instance of insubordination which came to his know- 
ledge; might there too be detected under all the 
agonies of the crisis; just beginning to feel the drea4 

^4 



i 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

misgiving, whether being a slave and a sneak were 
sufficient qualifications for office, without family or 
connection. Poor fellow! half the industry he had 
wasted on his cheerless craft might have made his 
fortune in some decent trade ! 

In dazzling contrast with these throes of low 
ambition, were some brilliant personages who had 
just scampered up from Melton, thinking it probable 
that Sir Robert might want some moral lords of the 
bed-chamber. Whatever may have been their pri- 
vate fears or feelings, all however seemed smiling and 
significant; as if they knew something if they chose 
to tell it, and that something very much to their own 
satisfaction. The only grave countenance that was 
occasionally ushered into the room belonged to some 
individual whose destiny was not in doubt, and who 
was already practising the official air that was in 
future to repress the familiarity of his former fellow- 
struofGflers. 

* Do you hear anything.?' said a great noble, who 
wanted something in the general scramble, but what 
he knew not ; only he had a vague feeling he ought to 
have something, having made such great sacrifices. 

' There is a report that Clifford is to be secretary 

to the Board of Control,' said Mr. Earwig, whose 

' whole soul was in this subaltern arrangement, of 

I which the Minister of course had not even thought; 

t * but I cannot trace it to any authority.' 

' I wonder who will be their Master of the Horse,' 
said the great noble, loving gossip though he despised 
the gossipper. 

' Clifford has done nothing for the party,' said 
Mr. Earwig. 

' I dare say Rambrooke will have the Buckhounds,' 
said the great noble musingly. 

115 



CONINGSBY Book II 

'Your Lordship has not heard Clifford's name 
mentioned?' continued Mr. Earwig. 

' I should think they had not come to that sort of 
thing,' said the great noble with ill-disguised con- 
tempt. ' The first thing after the Cabinet is formed, 
is the Household : the things you talk of are done 
last,' and he turned upon his heel, and met the 
imperturbable countenance and clear sarcastic eye of 
Lord Eskdale. 

'You have not heard anything.^' asked the great 
noble of his brother patrician. 

' Yes, a great deal since I have been in this room; 
but unfortunately it is all untrue.' 

' There is a report that Rambrooke is to have the 
Buck-hounds; but I cannot trace it to any authority.' 

' Pooh !' said Lord Eskdale. 

' I don't see that Rambrooke should have the 
Buckhounds any more than anybody else. W 
sacrifices has he made ?' 

' Past sacrifices are nothing,' said Lord Eskdi 
'Present sacrifices are the thing we want:- 
who will sacrifice their principles, and join us.' 

' You have not heard Rambrooke's name n 
tioned.'^' 

' When a Minister has no Cabinet, and only 
hundred and forty supporters in the House of C 
mons, he has something else to think of than placei 
at Court,' said Lord Eskdale, as he slowly turned 
away to ask Lucian Gay, whether it were true that 
Jenny Colon was coming over. 

Shortly after this, Henry Sydney's father, wl 
dined with Mr. Ormsby, drew Lord Eskdale into 
window and said in an under tone : 

' So there is to be a kind of program me : so 
thing is to be written.' 

ii6 



10 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

* Well, we want a cue,' said Lord Eskdale. ' I 
heard of this last night: Rigby has written some- 
thing.' 

The Duke shook his head. 

' No; Peel means to do it himself.' 

But at this moment Mr. Ormsby begged his Grace 
to lead them to dinner. 

' Something is to be written.' It is curious to 
recall the vague terms in which the first projection 
of documents, that are to exercise a vast influence on 
the course of affairs or the minds of nations, is often 
mentioned. This ' something to be written ' was 
written; and speedily; and has ever since been talked 
of. 

We beUeve we may venture to assume that at no 
period during the movements of 1834-5, did Sir 
Robert Peel ever believe in the success of his admini- 
stration. Its mere failure could occasion him little 
dissatisfaction; he was compensated for it by the 
noble opportunity afforded to him for the display of 
those great qualities, both moral and intellectual, 
which the swaddling-clothes of a routine prosperity 
had long repressed, but of which his opposition to 
the Reform Bill had given to the nation a very signi- 
ficant intimation. The brief administration elevated 
him in public opinion, and even in the eye of Europe; 
and it is probable that a much longer term of power 
would not have contributed more to his fame. 

The probable effect of the premature effort of his 
party on his future position as a Minister was how- 
ever far from being as satisfactory. At the lowest 
ebb of his political fortunes, it cannot be doubted 
that Sir Robert Peel looked forward, perhaps 
through the vista of many years, to a period when 
the national mind, arrived by reflection and experi- 

117 



CONINGSBY Book II 

ence at certain conclusions, would seek in him a 
powerful expositor of its convictions. His time of 
life permitted him to be tranquil in adversity, and to 
profit by its salutary uses. He would then have 
acceded to power as the representative of a Creed, 
instead of being the leader of a Confederacy, and he 
would have been supported by earnest and enduring 
enthusiasm, instead of by that churlish sufferance 
which is the result of a supposed balance of advan- 
tages in his favour. This is the consequence of the 
tactics of those short-sighted intriguers, who per- 
sisted in looking upon a revolution as a mere party 
struggle; and would not permit the mind of the 
nation to work through the inevitable phases that 
awaited it. . In 1834 England, though frightenei^t 
the reality of Reform, still adhered to its phrasesxit 
jvas inclined, as practical England, to maintam exist- 
>4ji^lnstituti6ns; but, as theoretical England, it was. 
jsuspicious that they were indefensible. 

No one had arisen either in Parliament, or the 
Universities, or the Press, to lead the public mind to 
the investigation of principles; and not to mistake, 
in their reformations, the corruption of practice for 
fundamental ideas. It was this perplexed, ill-formed, 
jaded, shallow generation, repeating cries which they 
did not comprehend, and wearied with the endless 
ebullitions of their own barren conceit, that Sir 
Robert Peel was summoned to govern. It was from 
such materials, ample in quantity, but in all spiritual 
qualities most deficient; with great numbers, largely 
acred, consoled up to their chins, but without know- 
ledge, genius, thought, truth, or faith, that Sir Robert 
Peel was to form a ' great Conservative party on a 
comprehensive basis.' That he did this like a 
dexterous politician, who can deny.? Whether he 

118 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

realized those prescient views of a great statesman in 
which he had doubtless indulged, and in which, 
though still clogged by the leadership of 1834, he 
may yet find fame for himself, and salvation for his 
country, is altogether another question. His difficult 
attempt was expressed in an address to his constitu- 
ents, which now ranks among state papers. We shall 
attempt briefly to consider it with the impartiality 
of the future. 



CHAPTER V 

TjHE^ Tamworth Manifesto of 1834 was an 
attempt to construct a party without principles; its 
basis therefore was necessarily Latitudinarianism; 
and its inevitable consequence has been Political In- 
fidelity. 

^ At an epoch of political perplexity and social 
alarm, the confederation was convenient, and was 
calculated by aggregation to encourage the timid and 
confused. But when the perturbation was a little 
subsided, and men began to inquire why they were 
banded together, the difficulty of defining their pur- 
pose proved that the league, however respectable, 
was not a party. The leaders indeed might profit by 
their eminent position to obtain power for their 
individual gratification, but it was impossible 
to secure their followers that which, after all, 
must be the great recompense of a political 
party, the putting in practice of their opinions; 
for they had none. 

There was indeed a considerable shouting about 
what they called Conservative principles; but the 
awkw^ard question naturally arose, what will you 
conserve ? The prerogatives of the Crown, provided 

119 



CONINGSBY Book IT 

they are not exercised; the independence of the 
House of Lords, provided it is not asserted; the 
Ecclesiastical estate, provided it is regulated by a 
commission of laymen. Everything in short that is 
established, as long as it is a phrase and not a fact. 

In the meantime, while forms and phrases are 
religiously cherished in order to make the semblance 
of a creed, the rule of practice is to bend to the 
passion or combination of the hour. Conservatism 
assumes in theory that everything established should 
be maintained; but adopts in practice that every- 
thing that is established is indefensible. To recon- 
cile this theory and this practice, they produce what 
they call ' the best bargain;' some arrangement which 
has no principle and no purpose; except to obtain a 
temporary pause of agitation, until the mind of the 
Conservatives without a guide and without an aim, 
distracted, tempted, and bewildered, is prepared for 
another arrangement, equally statesmanlike with the 
preceding one. 

Conservatism was an attempt to carry on affairs 
by substituting the fulfillment of the duties of office 
for the performance of the functions of government; 
and to maintain this negative system by the mere 
influence of property, reputable private conduct, and 
what are called good connexions. Conservatism dis- 
cards Prescription, shrinks from Principle, disavows 
Progress; having rejected all respect for Antiquity, 
it ofl^ers no redress for the Present, and makes no 
preparation for the Future. It is obvious that for a 
time, under favourable circumstances, such a con- 
federation might succeed; but it is equally clear, that 
on the arrival of one of those critical conjunctures 
that will periodically occur in all states, and which 
such an unimpassioned system is even calculated 

I20 



I 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

ultimately to create, all power of resistance will be 
wanting; the barren curse of political infidelity will 
paralyze all action; and the Conservative Constitu- 
tion will be discovered to be a Caput Mortuum. 

CHAPTER VI 

In the meantime, after dinner. Tadpole and Taper, 
who were among the guests of Mr. Ormsby, with- 
drew to a distant sofa, out of earshot, and indulged 
in confidential talk. 

' Such a strength in debate was never before found 
on a Treasury bench,' said Mr. Tadpole; the other 
side will be dumfounded.' 

* And what do you put our numbers at now.^^' 
inquired Mr. Taper. 

'Would you take fifty-five for our majority.'^' 
rejoined Mr. Tadpole. 

* It is not so much the tail they have, as the excuse 
their junction will be for the moderate, sensible men 
to come over,' said Taper. ' Our friend. Sir Everard 
for example, it would settle him.' 

' He is a solemn impostor,' rejoined Mr. Tadpole; 
' but he is a Baronet and a county member, and very 
much looked up to by the Wesleyans. The other 
men, I know, have refused him a peerage.' 

* And we might hold out judicious hopes,' said 
Taper. 

' No one can do that better than you,' said Tad- 
pole. ' I am apt to say too much about those 
things.' 

' I make it a rule never to open my mouth on such 
subjects,' said Taper. ' A nod or a wink will speak 
volumes. An affectionate pressure of the hand will 
sometimes do a great deal; and I have promised 

121 



CONINGSBY Book II 

many a peerage without committing myself by an 
ingenious habit of deference which cannot be mis- 
taken by the future noble.' 

' I wonder what they will do with Rigby,' said 
Tadpole. 

* He wants a good deal,' said Taper. 

' I tell you what, Mr. Taper; the time is gone by 
when a Marquess of Monmouth was Letter A. 
No. I.' 

' Very true, Mr. Tadpole. A wise man would do 
well now to look to the great middle class, as I said 
the other day to the electors of Shabbyton.' 

' I had sooner be supported by the Wesleyans,' 
said Mr. Tadpole, ' than by all the Marquesses in 
the peerage.' 

' At the same time,' said Mr. Taper, ' Rigby is a _ 
considerable man. If we want a slashing article — ' M 

'Pooh!' said Mr. Tadpole. 'He is quite gone 
by. He takes three months for his slashing articles. 
Give me a man who can write a leader. Rigby can't 
write a leader.' 

' Very few can,' said Mr. Taper. ' However, I 
don't think much of the Press. Its power is gone 
by. They overdid it.' 

' There is Tom Chudleigh,' said Tadpole. ' What 
is he to have.^^' 

' Nothing, I hope,' said Taper. ' I hate him. 
A coxcoinb ! cracking his jokes and laughing at us.' 

' He has done a good deal for the party, though,' 
said Tadpole. ' That, to be sure, is only an addi- 
tional reason for throwing him over, as he is too far 
committed to venture to oppose us. But I am 
afraid from something that dropped to-day, that Sir 
Robert thinks he has claims.' 

' We must stop them,' said Taper, growing pale. 

122 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

' Fellows like Chudleigh when they once get in, are 
always in one's way. I have no objection to young 
noblemen being put forward, for they are preferred so 
rapidly, and then their fathers die, that in the long 
run they do not practically interfere with us.' 

' Well, his name was mentioned,' said Tadpole. 
* There is no concealing that.' 

' I will speak to Earwig,' said Taper. ' He shall 
just drop into Sir Robert's ear by chance, that 
Chudleigh used to quiz him in the smoking- 
room. Those little bits of information do a great 
deal of good.' 

' Well, I leave him to you,' said Tadpole. * I am 
heartily with you in keeping out all fellows like 
Chudleigh. They are very well for opposition; but 
in office we don't want wits.' 

' And when shall we have the answer from 
Knowsley.f^' inquired Taper. 'You anticipate no 
possible difficulty.'" 

' I tell you it is " carte blanche," ' replied Tadpole. 
' Four places in the Cabinet. Two secretaryships at 
the least. Do you happen to know any gentlemen 
of your acquaintance, Mr. Taper, who refuse 
Secretaryships of State so easily, that you can for an 
instant doubt of the present arrangement .f*' 

' I know none, indeed,' said Mr. Taper with a grim 
smile. 

' The thing is done,' said Mr. Tadpole. 

' And now for our cry .f*' said Mr. Taper. 

' It is not a Cabinet for a good cry,' said Tadpole; 
' but then on the other hand, it is a Cabinet that will 
sow dissension in the opposite ranks, and prevent 
them having a good cry.' 

'Ancient institutions and modern improvements, 
I suppose, Mr. Tadpole ?^ 

123 



CONINGSBY Book II 

'Ameliorations is the better word; ameliorations. 
Nobody knows exactly what it means.' 

' We go strong on the Church.^' said Mr. Taper. 

' And no Repeal of the Malt Tax; you were right, 
Taper. It can't be listened to for a moment.' 

* Something might be done with prerogative,' 
said Mr. Taper; ' the King's constitutional choice.' 

' Not too much,' replied Mr. Tadpole. ' It is a 
raw time yet for prerogative.' 

' Ah ! Tadpole,' said Mr. Taper, getting a little 
maudlin; ' I often think, if the time should ever 
come, when you and I should be joint Secretaries of 
the Treasury!' 

' We shall see, we shall see. All we have to do is 
to get into Parliament, work well together, and keep 
other men down.' 

' We will do our best,' said Taper. ' A dissolu- 
tion will hold inevitable.'^' 

* How are you and I to get into Parliament,- 
there be not one.f^ We must make it inevitable, 
tell you what. Taper, the lists must prove a diss( 
tion inevitable. You understand me.^ If the 
sent Parliament goes on, where shall we be."^ 
shall have new men cropping up every session.' 

* True, terribly true,' said Mr. Taper. * That 
should ever live to see a Tory government again! 
We have reason to be very thankful.' 

* Hush !' said Mr. Tadpole. ' The time has gone 
by for Tory governments; what the country requires 
is a sound Conservative government.' 

* A sound Conservative government,' said Taper 
musingly. ' I understand : Tory men and Whig 
measures.' 



124 



I 



Chapter VII COxNINGSBY 



CHAPTER VII 

i\.MiD the contentions of party, the fierce struggles 
of ambition, and the intricacies of political intrigue, 
let us not forget our Eton friends. During the 
period which elapsed from the failure of the Duke of 
Wellington to form a government in 1832, to the 
failure of Sir Robert Peel to carry on a government 
in 1835, the boys had entered, and advanced in youth. 
The ties of friendship which had united several of 
them had only been confirm.ed by continued com- 
panionship. Coningsby and Henry Sydney, and 
Buckhurst and Vere were still bound together by 
entire sympathy, and by the affection of which sym- 
pathy is the only sure spring. But their intimacies 
had been increased by another familiar friend. There 
had risen up between Coningsby and Millbank 
mutual sentiments of deep, and even ardent, regard. /J 
Acquaintance had developed the superior qualities of Ol C&'^^ 
Millbank. His thoughtful and inquiring mind, his ' 
inflexible integrity, his stern independence, and yet 
the engaging union of extreme tenderness of heart 
with all this strength of character, had won the good 
will, and often excited the admiration, of Coningsby. 
Our hero too was gratified by the affectionate defer- 
ence that was often shown to him by one who con- 
descended to no other individual; he was proud of 
having saved the life of a member of their com- 
munity whom masters and boys alike considered; and 
he ended by loving the being on whom he had con- 
ferred a g^reat obligation. 

The friends of Coningsby, the sweet tempered 
and intelligent Henry Sydney, the fiery and generous 
Buckhurst, and the calm and sagacious Vere, had 



CONINGSBY Book II 

ever been favourably inclined to Millbank, and had 
they not been, the example of Coningsby would soon 
have influenced them. JHe had obtained over his 
intimates the ascendant power, which is the destiny 
qf^g^enius. Nor was the submission of such spirits 
to be held cheap. Although they were willing to 
take the colour of their minds from him, they were 
in intellect and attainments, in personal accomplish- 
ments and general character, the leaders of the 
school ; an authority not to be won from five hundred 
high-spirited boys without the possession of great 
virtues and great talents. 

As for the dominion of Coningsby himself, it was 
not limited to the immediate circle of his friends. 
He had become the hero of Eton; the being of 
whose existence every body was proud, and in whose 
career every boy took an interest. They talked, of 
him, they quoted him, they imitated him. Fame and 
power are the objects of all men. Even their par- 
tial fruition is gained by very few; and that too at 
the expense of social pleasure, health, conscience, life. 
Yet what power of manhood in passionate intense- 
ness, appealing at the same time to the subject and the 
votary, can rival that which is exercised by the 
idolized chieftain of a great public school? What 
fame of after days equals the rapture of celebrity, that 
thrills the youthful medallist, as in tones of rare 
emotion he recites his triumphant verses amid the 
devoted plaudits of the.flower of England ? That's 
fame, that's power; real, unquestioned, undoubted, 
catholic. Alas! the schoolboy when he becomes a 
man, finds that power, even fame, like everything 
else, is an affair of party. 

Coningsby liked very much to talk politics with 
Millbank. He heard things from Millbank which 

126 



I 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

were new to him. Himself, as he supposed, a high 
Tory, which he was according to the revelation of the 
Rigbys, he was also sufficiently familiar with the 
hereditary tenets of his Whig friend, Lord Vere. 
Politics had as yet appeared to him a struggle whether 
the country was to be governed by Whig nobles, or 
Tory nobles; and he thought it very unfortunate 
that he should probably have to enter life with his 
friends out of power, and his family boroughs de- 
stroyed. But in conversing with Millbank, he heard 
for the first time of influential classes in the country, 
who were not noble, and were yet determined to ac- 
quire power. And although Millbank's views, which 
were of course merely caught up from his father, 
without the intervention of his own intelligence, 
were doubtless crude enough, and were often very 
acutely canvassed and satisfactorily demolished by 
the clever prejudices of another school, which Con- 
ingsby had at command, still they were, unconsciously 
to the recipient, materials for thought, and insensibly 
provoked in his mind a spirit of inquiry into political 
questions, for which he had a predisposition. 

It may be said indeed that generally among the 
upper boys, there might be observed at this time at 
Eton a reigning inclination for political discussion. 
The school truly had at all times been proud of its 
statesmen and its parliamentary heroes, but this was 
comparatively a superficial feeling compared with the 
sentiment which now first became prevalent. The 
great public questions that were the consequence of 
the Reform of the House of Commons, had also 
agitated their young hearts. And especially the con- 
troversies that were now rife respecting the nature 
and character of ecclesiastical establishments^ wpnder- 
fully addressed themselves to their excited intelli- 



CONINGSBY Book II 

gence. They read their newspapers with a keen 
relish, canvassed debates and criticised speeches; and 
although in their debating society which had been 
instituted more than a quarter of a century, discussion 
on topics of the day was prohibited, still by fixing on 
periods of our history when affairs were analogous 
to the present, many a youthful orator contrived very 
effectively to reply to Lord John, or to refute the 
fallacies of his rival. 

As the political opinions predominant in the school 
were what in ordinary parlance are styled Tory, and 
indeed were far better entitled to that glorious 
epithet than the flimsy shifts which their fathers were 
professing in Parliament and the country; the forma- 
tion and the fall of Sir Robert PeePs government had 
been watched by Etonians with great interest, and 
even excitement. The memorable efforts which the 
Minister himself made, supported only by the silent 
votes of his numerous adherents, and contending 
alone against the multiplied assaults of his able and 
determined foes with a spirit equal to the great 
occasion, and with resources of parliamentary contest 
which seemed to increase with every exigency; these 
great and unsupported struggles alone were calcu- 
lated to gain the sympathy of youthful and generous 
spirits. The assault on the revenues of the Church; 
the subsequent crusade against the House of Lords; 
the displav of intellect and courage exhibited by 
Lord Lyndhurst in that assembly, when all seemed 
cowed and faint-hearted; all these were incidents or 
personal traits apt to stir the passions, and create in 
breasts not yet schooled to repress emotion, a senti- 
ment even of enthusiasm. It is the personal that 
interests mankind; that fires their imagination, and 
wins their hearts. A cause is a great abstraction, and 
^ 128 



I 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY' 

fit only for students; embodied in a party, it stirs men : 
to action; but place at the head of that party a leader 
who can inspire enthusiasm, he commands the world. 
Divine faculty! Rare and incomparable privilege! 
A parliamentary leader who possesses it, doubles his 
majority; and he who has it not, may shroud himself 
in artificial reserve, and study with undignified arro- 
gance an awkward haughtiness, but he will be never- 
theless as far from controlling the spirit as from 
captivating the hearts of his sullen followers. 

Notwithstanding however this very general feeling 
at Eton in 1835 ^^ favour of * Conservative prin- 
ciples,' and which was, in fact, nothing more than a 
; confused and mingled sympathy with some great 
i political truths, which were at the bottom of every 
boy's heart, but nowhere else, and with the personal 
j achievements and distinction of the chieftains of the 
I party; when all this hubbub had subsided, and 
retrospection, in the course of a year, had exercised 
1 its moralising influence over the more thoughtful 

part of the nation, inquiries, at first very faint and:^, 
' unpretending, and confined indeed for a long period :»' 
I to very limited, though inquisitive, circles, began ' 
gently to circulate — what Conservative principles * 
were? . 

' These inquiries, urged indeed with a sort of hesi- 
! tating scepticism, early reached Eton. They came 
no doubt from the Universities. They were of a 
character however far too subtile and refined to 
exercise any immediate influence over the minds of 
youth. To pursue them required much previous 
knowledge and habitual thought. They were not 
yet publicly prosecuted by any school of politicians, 
or any section of the public press. They had not a 
local habitation or a name. They were whispered 
I T29 



-CONINGSBY Book II 



in conversation by a few. A tutor would speak of 
them in an esoteric vein to a favourite pupil, in whose 
abilities he had confidence, and whose future position 
in life would afford him the opportunity of influenc- 
ing opinion. Among others, they fell upon the ear, 
pf Conlngsby. They were addressed to a mind whfll 
was prepared for such researches. 
"~n^ere is a library at Eton formed by the boys and 
governed by the boys ; one of those free institutions 
which are the just pride of that noble school; which 
shews the capacity of the boys for self-government; 
and which has sprung from that large ifreedom that 
has been wisely conceded them, and the prudence of 
which confidence has been proved by their rarely 
abusing it. This library has been formed by sub- 
scription of the present and still more by the gifts 
of old Etonians. Among the honoured names of 
these donors may be remarked those of the Gren- 
villes and Lord Wcllesley; nor should we forget 
George IV. who enriched the collection with a 
magnificent copy of the Delphin Classics. The 
Institution is governed by six directors; the three 
first Collegers and the three first Oppidans for the 
time being. And the subscribers are limited to iJMI 
one hundred senior members of the school. '^■| 

It is only to be regretted that the collection is not' 
as extensive as it is interesting and choice. Perhaps 
its existence is not as generally known as it deserves 
to be. One would think that every Eton man would 
be as proud of his name being registered as a donor 
in the Catalogue of this Library, as a Venetian of 
his name being inscribed in the Golden Book. In- 
deed an old Etonian, who still remembers with 
tenderness the sacred scene" of youth, could scarcely 
do better than build a Gothic apartment for the 

130 



I 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

Exception of the collection. It cannot be doubted 
that the Provost and fellows would be gratified in 
granting a piece of ground for the purpose. 

Great were the obligations of Coningsby to this 
Eton Library. It introduced him to that historic 
lore, that accumulation of facts and incidents illus- 
trative of political conduct, for which he had imbibed 
an early relish. Especially his study was directed to 
the annals of his own country, in which youth, and 
not only youth, is frequently so deficient. This 
collection could afford him Clarendon and Burnet, 
and the authentic volumes of Coxe : these were rich 
materials to one anxious to be versed in the great 
i parliamentary story of his country. During the last 
I year of his stay at Eton, when he had completed his 
': eighteenth year, Coningsby led a more retired life 
! than previously; he read much, and pondered with 
! all the pride of acquisition over his increasing know- 
ledge. 

And now the hour has come when this youth is 
to be launched into a world more vast than that in 
'which he has hitherto sojourned; yet for which this 
microcosm has been no ill preparation. He will 
become more wise; will he remain as generous .f* 
His ambition may be as great; will it be as noble.'* 
What indeed is to be the future of this existence 
that is now to be sent forth into the great aggregate 
of entities ? Is it an ordinary organization that will 
jostle among the crowd, and be jostled.'^ Is it a 
finer temperament susceptible of receiving the im- 
pressions and imbibing the inspirations of superior, 
yet sym.pathizing, spirits ? Or is it a primordial and 
creative mind; one that will say to his fellows, 
^Behold, God has given me thought; I have dis- 
covered truth; and you shall believe!' 

131 



CONINGSBY Book II 

The night before Coningsby left Eton, alone in his 
room, before he retired to rest, he opened the lattice 
and looked for the last time upon the landscape 
before him; the stately keep of Windsor, the bowery 
meads of Eton, soft in the summer moon and still in 
the summer night. He gazed upon them; his 
countenance had none of the exultation, that under 
such circumstances might have distinguished a more 
careless glance, eager for fancied emancipation and 
passionate for a novel existence. Its expression was 
serious, even sad; and he covered his brow with his 
hand. 




132 



BOOK III 



CHAPTER I 

There are few things more full of delight and 
splendour, than to travel during the heat of a reful- 
gent summer in the green district of some ancient 
forest. 

In one of our midland counties, there is a region 
of this character, to which during a season of peculiar 
lustre, we would introduce the reader. 

It was a fragment of one of those vast sylvan tracts 
wherein Norman kings once hunted, and Saxon out- 
laws plundered; and although the plough had for 
: centuries successfully invaded brake and bower, the 
I relics retained all their original character of wildness 
and seclusion. Sometimes the green earth was \ 

i thickly studded with groves of huge and vigorous < V ' 
: oaks, intersected with those smooth and sunny glades ..' 
I that seem as if they must be cut for dames and 
knights to saunter on. Then again the undulating 
ground spread on all sides, far as the eye could range, 
covered with copse and fern of immense growth. 
Anon, you found yourself in a turfy wilderness girt 
in apparently by dark woods. And when you had 
wound your way a little through this gloomy belt, 
the landscape, still strictly sylvan, would beautifully 
expand with every combination and variety of wood- 

^33 



CONINGSBY Book III 

land; while in its centre, the wild fowl covered the 
waters of a lake, and the deer basked on the knolls 
that abounded on its banks. 

It was in the month of August, some six or seven 
years ago, that a traveller on foot, touched as he 
emerged from the dark wood by the beauty of this 
scene, threw himself under the shade of a spreading 
tree, and stretched his limbs on the turf for enjoy- 
ment rather than repose. The sky was deep coloured 
and without a cloud, save here and there a minute, 
sultry, burnished vapour, almost as glossy as the 
heavens. Everything was as still as it was bright. 
All seemed brooding and basking. The bee upon 
its wing was the only stirring sight, and its song the 
only sound. 

The traveller fell into a reverie. He was young, 
and therefore his musings were of the future. He 
had felt the pride of learning, so ennobling to youth; i. 
he was not a stranger to the stirring impulses of a 
high ambition, though the world to him was as yet 
only a world of books, and all that he knew of the 
schemes of statesmen and the passions of the people, 
were to be found in their annals. Often had his fitful 
fancy dwelt with fascination on visions of personal 
distinction, of future celebrity, perhaps even of 
enduring fame. But his dreams were of another 
f colour now. The surrounding scene, so fair, so 
still, and sweet; so abstracted from all the tumult of 
Ithe world, its strife, its passions, and its cares; had 
'fallen on his heart with its soft and subduing spirit: 
i had fallen on a heart still pure and innocent; the heart 
[of one, who, notwithstanding all his high resoh ^ 
and daring thoughts, was blessed with that tender- 
ness of soul which is sometimes linked with an ardent 
imagination and a strong will. The traveller was an 

134 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

orphan; more than that — a solitary orphan. The 
sweet sedulousness of a mother's love, a sister's 
mystical affection, had not cultivated his early sus- 
ceptibility. No soft pathos of expression had 
appealed to his childish ear. He was alone, among 
strangers, calmly and coldly kind. It must indeed 
have been a truly gentle disposition that could have 
withstood such hard neglect. All that he knew of 
the power of the softer passions might be found in 
the fanciful and romantic annals of school-boy friend- 
ship. 

And those friends too, so fond, so sympathizing, 
so devoted, where were they now.'' Already they 
were dispersed. The first great separation of life 
had been experienced. The former school-boy had 
planted his foot on the threshold of manhood. True, 
many of them might meet again. Many of them 
the University must again unite. But never with 
the same feelings. The space of time, passed in the 
world before they again met, would be an age of 
sensation, passion, experience to all of them. They 
would meet again with altered mien; with different 
manners, diff'erent voices. Their eyes would not 
shine with the same light; they would not speak the 
same words. The favourite phrases of their inti- 
macy, the mystic sounds that spoke only to their 
initiated ear, they would be ashamed to use them. 
Yes! they might meet again; but the gushing and 
secret tenderness was gone for ever. 

Nor could our pensive youth conceal it from him- 
self that it was affection, and mainly affection, that 
had bound him to these dear companions. They 
could not be to him what he had been to them. His 
had been the inspiring mind that had guided their 
opinions, formed their tastes, directed and bent the 

135 



CONINGSBY 



Book III 



tenor of their lives and thoughts. Often indeed had 
he needed, sometimes indeed he had sighed for the 
companionship of an equal, or superior mind; one 
who by the comprehension of his thought, and the 
richness of his knowledge, and the advantage of his 
experience, might strengthen and illuminate and 
guide his obscure or hesitating or unpractised intelli- 
gence. He had scarcely been fortunate in this 
respect, and he deeply regretted it; for he was one 
of those who was not content with excelling in his 
own circle, if he thought there was one superior to 
it. Absolute, not relative distinction, was his noble 
aim. 

Alone, in a lonely scene, he doubly felt the soli- 
tude of his life and mind. His heart and his intel- 
lect seemed both to need a companion. Books, and 
action, and deep thought, might in time supply the 
want of that intellectual guide; but for the heart 
where was he to find solace ? 

Ah ! if she would but come forth from that shin- 
ing lake like a beautiful Ondine ! Ah ! if she 
would but step out from the green shade of that 
I secret grove like a Dryad of sylvan Greece! Oh! 
i mystery of mysteries ! when the youth dreams hi 
j first dream over some imaginary heroine ! 

Suddenly the brooding wild-fowl rose from the 
bosom of the lake, soared in the air, and uttering 
mournful shrieks, whirled in agitated tumult. The 
deer started from their knolls, no longer sunny, 
stared around, and rushed into the woods. Con- 
ingsby raised his eyes from the turf on which they 
had been long fixed in abstraction, and he observed 
that the azure sky had vanished, a thin white film 
had suddenly spread itself over the heavens, and the 
wind moaned with a sad and fitful gust. 

136 



1 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

He had some reason to believe that on the other 
side of the opposite wood, the forest was intersected 
by a public road, and that there were some habita- 
tions. Immediately rising, he descended at a rapid 
pace into the valley, passed the lake, and then struck 
into the ascending wood of the bank opposite to that 
on which he had mused away some precious time. 

The wind howled, the branches of the forest 
stirred, and sent forth sounds like an incantation. 
Soon might be distinguished the various voices of 
the mighty trees, as they expressed their terror or 
their agony. The oak roared, the beech shrieked, 
the elm sent forth its deep and long-drawn groan; 
while ever and anon, amid a momentary pause, the 
passion of the ash was heard in moans of thrilling 
anguish. 

Coningsby hurried on, the forest became less close. 
All that he aspired to was to gain more open country. 
Now he was in a rough flat land covered only here 
and there with some dwarf underwood; the horizon 
bounded at no great distance by a barren hill of 
moderate elevation. He gained its height with ease. 
He looked over a vast open country, like a wild 
common; in the extreme distance hills covered with 
woods ; the plain intersected by two good roads ; 
the sky entirely clouded, but in the distance black as 
ebony. 

A place of refuge too was at hand : screened from 
his first glance by some elm trees, the ascending 
smoke now betrayed a roof which Coningsby 
reached before the tempest broke. The forest inn 
was also a farm-house. There was a comfortable- 
looking kitchen enough; but the ingle nook was full 
of smokers, and Coningsby was glad to avail him- 
self of the only private room for the simple meal 

137 



CONINGSBY Book III 

which they offered him. Only eggs and bacon; but 
very welcome to a pedestrian and a hungry one. 

As he stood at the window of his little apartment, 
watching the large drops that were the heralds of the 
coming hurricane, and waiting for his repast, a flash 
of lightning illumined the whole country, and a 
horseman at full speed, followed by his groom, 
galloped up to the door. 

The remarkable beauty of the animal so attracted 
Coningsby's attention, that it prevented him catching 
even a glimpse of the rider, who rapidly dismounted 
and entered the inn. The host shortly after came 
in and asked Coningsby whether he had any objec- 
tion to a gentleman, who was driven there by the 
storm, sharing his room until it subsided. The con- 
sequence of the immediate assent of Coningsby was, 
that the landlord retired and soon returned ushering 
in an individual, who though perhaps ten years 
older than Coningsby, was still, according to 
Hippocrates, in the period of lusty youth. He was 
above the middle height, and of a distinguished 
and figure; pale, with an impressive brow, and da 
eyes of great intelligence. 

' I am glad that we have both escaped the stor 
said the stranger; ' and I am greatly indebted to y 
for your courtesy.' He slightly and graciously 
bowed as he spoke in a voice of remarkable clearness; 
and his manner, though easy, was touched with a 
degree of dignity that was engaging. 

' The inn is a common home,' replied Coningsby 
returning his salute. 

' And free from cares,' added the stranger. Then 
looking through the window, he said : ' A strange 
storm this. I was sauntering in the sunshine, when 
suddenly I found I had to gallop for my life. 'Tis 

138 



I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

more like a white squall in the Mediterranean than 
anything else.' 

' I never was in the Mediterranean,' said Con- 
ingsby. ' There is nothing I should like so much 
as to travel.' 

' You are travelling,' rejoined his companion. 

* Every moment is travel, if understood.' 

'Ah! but the Mediterranean!' exclaimed Con- 
ingsby. ' What w^ould I not give to see Athens ! ' 

' I have seen it,' said the stranger, slightly shrug- 
ging his shoulders; 'and more wonderful things. 
Phantoms and spectres! The age of Ruins is past. 
jiave you seen Manchester ? ' cy^Ui **v.^ 

nrhave seen nothing,' said Coningsby; ' this Is 
my first wandering. I am about to visit a friend who 
lives in this county, and I have sent on my baggage 
as I could. For myself, I determined to trust to a 
less commonplace conveyance.' 

' And seek adventures,' said the stranger smiling. 

* Well, according to Cervantes, they should begin in 
an inn.' 

' I fear that the age of adventures is past as well 
as that of ruins,' replied Coningsby. -yfc^ ; • ^,, 

' Adventures are to the adventurous,' said the 
stranger. 

At this moment, a pretty serving maid entered the 
room. She laid the dapper-cloth and arranged the 
table with a self-possession quite admirable. She 
seemed unconscious that any being was in the cham- 
ber except herself, or that there were any other duties 
to perform in life beyond filling a salt-cellar or fold- 
ing a napkin. 

' She does not even look at us,' said Coningsby 
when she had quitted the room; ' and I dare say only 
a prude.' 

139 



CONINGSBY Book III 

' She is calm,' said the stranger, * because she is 
mistress of her subject; 'tis the secret of self-posses- 
sion. She is here, as a Duchess at court.' 

They brought in Coningsby's meal, and he invited 
the stranger to join him. The invitation was 
accepted with cheerfulness. 

* 'Tis but simple fare,' said Coningsby as the 
maiden uncovered the still hissing bacon and the 
eggs that looked like tufts of primroses. 

* Nay, a national dish,' said the stranger, glancing 
quickly at the table, ' whose fame is a proverb. And 
what more should we expect under a simple roof! 
How much better than an omelette or a greasy olla, 
that they would give us in a posada! 'Tis a won- 
derful country this England! What a napkin! 
How spotless! And so sweet, I declare 'tis a per- 
fume. There is not a princess throughout the 
South of Europe served with the cleanliness that 
meets us in this cottage.' 

'An inheritance from our Saxon fathers.'^' said 
Coningsby. ' I apprehend the northern nations have 
a greater sense of cleanliness — of propriety — of what 
we call comfort .?' 

* By no means,' said the stranger, ' the East is 
the Land of the Bath. Moses and Mahomet made 
cleanliness religion.' 

* You will let me help you .?' said Coningsby, 
offering him a plate which he had filled. 

' I thank you,' said the stranger, ' but it is one of 
my bread days. With your permission this shall be 
my dish,' and he cut from the large loaf a supply of 
crusts. 

* 'Tis but unsavoury fare after a gallop,' said Con- 
ingsby. 

' Ah ! you are proud of your bacon and your eggs,' 

140 



I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

said the stranger smiling; ' but I love corn and wine. 
They are our chief and our oldest luxuries. Time 
has brought us substitutes, but how inferior! Man 
has deified corn and wine ! but not even the Chinese 
or the Irish have raised temples to tea and potatoes.' 

' But Ceres without Bacchus,' said Coningsby, 
' how does that do ? Think you, under this roof we 
could invoke the God ?^ 

' Let us swear by his body that we will try,' said 
the stranger. 

Alas! the landlord was not a priest of Bacchus. 
But then these inquiries led to the finest perry in 
the world. The young men agreed they had seldom 
tasted anything more delicious; they sent for another 
bottle. Coningsby, who was much interested by 
his new companion, enjoyed himself amazingly. 

A cheese, such as Derby can alone produce, could 
not induce the stranger to be even partially incon- 
stant to his crusts. But his talk was as vivacious, 
as if the talker had been stimulated by the juices of 
the finest banquet. Coningsby had never met or 
read of any one like this chance companion. His 
sentences were so short, his language so racy, his 
voice rang so clear, his elocution was so complete. 
On all subjects his mind seemed to be instructed, and 
his opinions formed. He flung out a result in a 
few words; he solved with a phrase some deep pro- 
blem that men muse over for years. He said many 
things that were strange, yet they immediately 
appeared to be true. Then, without the slightest 
air of pretension or parade, he seemed to know 
everybody as well as everything. Monarchs, states- 
men, authors, adventurers of all descriptions and of 
all climes — if their names occurred in their conversa- 
tion, he described them in an epigrammatic sentence, 

141 



•i 



CONINGSBY Book III 

or revealed their precise position, character, calibre, 
by a curt dramatic trait. All this, too, without any 
excitement of manner; on the contrary with repose 
amounting almost to nonchalance. If his address 
had a fault in it, it was rather a deficiency of earnest- 
ness. A slight spirit of mockery played over his 
speech even when you deemed him most serious ; 
you were startled by his sudden transitions from 
profound thought to poignant sarcasm. A very 
singular freedom from passion and prejudice on every 
topic on which they treated might be some compen- 
sation for this want of earnestness; perhaps was its 
consequence. Certainly it was difficult to ascertain 
his precise opinions on many subjects, though his 
manner was frank even to abandonment. And yet 
throughout his whole conversation, not a stroke of 
egotism, not a word, not a circumstance, escaped him 
by which you could judge of his position or pur- 
poses in life. As little did he seem to care to dis- 
cover those of his companion. He did not by any 
means monopolise the conversation. Far from it; 
he continually asked questions, and while he received 
answers, or had engaged his fellow traveller in any 
exposition of his opinions or feelings, he listened 
with a serious and fixed attention, looking Coningsby 
in the face with a steadfast glance. 

'.J perceive,' said Coningsby, pursuing a train of 
thought which the other had indicated, * that you 
have great confidence in the influence of individual 
character. I also have some confused persuasions 
of that kind. But it is not the Spirit of the Age.' 

' The Age does not believe in great men, because 
it does not possess any,' replied the stranger. * The 
Spirit of the Age is the very thing that a great man 
changes.' 

142 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

' But does not he rather avail himself of it ?' 
inquired Coningsby. 

* Parvenus do;' rejoined his companion, 'but not 
prophets, great legislators, great conquerors. They 
destroy and they create.' 

' But are these times for great legislators and great 
conquerors?' urged Coningsby. 

'When were they more wanted.'^' asked the 
stranger. ' From the throne to the hovel all call for 
a guide. You give monarchs constitutions to teach 
them sovereignty, and nations Sunday-schools to 
inspire them with faith.' 

' But what is an individual ! ' exclaimed Coningsby, 
' against a vast public opinion ^^ 

' Divine,' said the stranger. ' God made Man in 
his own image; but the Public is made by News- 
papers, Members of Parliament, Excise Officers, 
Poor Law Guardians. Would Philip have suc- 
ceeded, if Epaminondas had not been slain.'' And 
if Philip had not succeeded .^^ Would Prussia have 
existed had Frederick not been born.? And if 
Frederick had not been born.^^ What would have 
been the fate of the Stuarts if Prince Henry had not 
died, and Charles I., as was intended, had been Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury .?' 

' But when men are young, they want experience,' 
said Coningsby; ' and when they have gained experi- 
ence, they want energy.' 

' Great men never want experience,' said the 
stranger. 

' But everybody says that experience — ' 

' Is the best thing in the world — a treasure for you, 
for me, for millions. But for a creative mind, less 
than nothing. ^Imost everything that is great has 
been done by youth.' 

~ 143 



CONINGSBY Book III 

' It is at least a creed flattering to our years,' said 
Coningsby with a smile. 

' Nay,' said the stranger; ' for life in general there 
is but one decree. Youth is a blunder ; Manhood 
a struggle; old Age a regret. ..Do not suppose,' he 
added smiling, * that I hold that youth is genius; all 
that I say is, that gemusf when young, is divine. 
Why the greatest captains of ancient and modern 
times both conquered Italy at five-and-twenty ! 
Youth, extreme youth, overthrew the Persian Em- 
pire. Don John of Austria won Lepanto at twenty- 
five — the greatest battle of modern time; had it not 
been for the jealousy of Philip, the next year he 
would have been Emperor of Mauritania. Gaston 
de Foix was only twenty-two when he stood a victor 
on the plain of Ravenna. Every one remembers 
Conde and Rocroy at the same age. Gustavus 
Adolphus died at thirty-eight. Look at his cap- 
tains : that wonderful Duke of Weimar, only thirty- 
six when he died. Banier himself, after all his 
miracles, died at forty-five. Cortes was little more 
than thirty when he gazed upon the golden cupolas 
of Mexico. When Maurice of Saxony died at 
thirty-two, all Europe acknowledged the loss of the 
greatest captain and the profoundest statesman of 
the age. Then there is Nelson, Clive — but these are 
warriors, and perhaps you may think there are 
greater things than war. I do not; I worship the 
Lord of Hosts. But take the most illustrious 
achievements of civil prudence. Innocent III. the 
greatest of the Popes, was the despot of Christen- 
dom at thirty-seven. John de Medici was a Cardinal 
at fifteen, and Guicciardini tells us baffled with his 
state craft Ferdinand of Arrogan himself. He was 
Pope as Leo X. at thirty-seven. Luther robbed 

144 



Chapter I CQNINGSBY 

even him of his richest province at thirty-five. Take 
Ignatius Loyola and John Wesley, they worked with 
young brains. Ignatius was only thirty when he 
made his pilgrimage and wrote the " Spiritual 
Exercises." Pascal wrote a great work at sixteen, 
the greatest of Frenchmen and died at thirty-seven! 

' Ah ! that fatal thirty-seven, which reminds me of 
Byron, greater even as a man than a writer. Was 
It experience that guided the pencil of Raphael when 
he painted the palaces of Rome! He died too at 
thirty-seven. Richelieu was Secretary of State at 
thirty-one. Well then, there are Bolingbroke and 
Pitt, both ministers before other men leave off 
cricket. Grotius was in great practice at seventeen, 
and Attorney-General at twenty-four. And Acqua- 
viva — Acquaviva was General of the Jesuits, ruled 
every cabinet in Europe, and colonised America be- 
fore he was thirty-seven. What a career!' exclaimed 
the stranger, rising from his chair and walking up and 
down the room, ' the secret sway of Europe ! That 
was indeed a position ! But it is needless to multiply 
instances. The history of Heroes is the history of 

jl Youth.' 

i! 'Ah!' said Coningsby, 'I should like to be a 

ij great man ! ' 

'! The stranger threw at him a scrutinizing glance. 

I| His countenance was serious. He said in a voice of 

I' almost solemn melody : 

' Nurture your mind with great thoughts. To 

Ib^eve in the heroic rfiakes heroes.' 
* You seem to me a hero,' said Coningsby in a 
tone of real feeling, which, half ashamed of his 
emotion, he tried to turn into playfulness. 

' I am, and must ever be,' said the stranger, ' but 
a dreamer of dreams.' Then going towards the 
K 145 



CONINGSBY Book III 

window and changing into a familiar tone, as if to 
divert the conA^ersation, he added : ' What a 
delicious afternoon!. I look forward to my ride with 
delight. You rest here?' 

' No ; I go on to Nottingham, where I shall 
sleep.' 

' And I in the opposite direction.' And he rang 
the bell and ordered his horses. 

' I long to see your mare again,' said Coningsby. 
' She seemed to me so beautiful.' 

' She is not only of pure race,' said the stranger, 
' but of the highest and rarest breed in Arabia. Her 
name is " the Daughter of the Star." She is a 
foal of that famous mare, which belonged to the 
Prince of the Wahabees; and to possess which, I 
believe was one of the principal causes of war 
between that tribe and the Egyptians. The Pacha of 
Egypt gave her to me, and I would not change her 
for her statue in pure gold, even carved by Lysippus. 
Come round to the stable and see her.' 

They went out together. It was a soft sunny 
afternoon; the air fresh from the rain, but mild and 
exhilaratinor. 

The groom brought forth the mare. ' The 
Daughter of the Star ' stood before Coningsby with 
her sinewy shape of matchless symmetry ; her 
burnished skin, black mane, legs like those of an 
antelope, her little ears, dark speaking eye, and tail 
worthy of a Pacha. And who was her master, and 
whither was she about to take him ? 

Coningsby was so naturally well-bred, that we 
may be sure it was not curiosity; no, it was a finer* 
feeling that made him hesitate and think a little, and 
then say : 

^ I am sorry to part.' 

h6 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

' I also,' said the stranger. ' But life is constant 
separation.' 

' I hope we may meet again,' said Coningsby. 

' If our acquaintance be worth preserving,' said 
the stranger, ' you may be sure it will not be lost.' 

' But mine is not worth preserving,' said Con- 
ingsby earnestly. ' It is yours that is the treasure. 
You teach me things of which I have long mused.' 

The stranger took the bridle of the ' Daughter of 
the Star,' and turning round with a faint smile, 
extended his hand to his companion. 

' Your mind at least is nurtured with great 
thoughts,' said Coningsby, ' your actions should be 
heroic' 

'Action is not for me;' said the stranger, 'I am 
of that faith that the Apostles professed before they 
followed their master.' 

He vaulted into his saddle, the * Daughter of the 
Star ' bounded away as if she scented the air of the 
Desert from which she and her rider had alike 
j sprung, and Coningsby remained in profound medi- 
tation. 



CHAPTER II 

The day after his adventure at the Forest Inn, Con- 
ingsby arrived at Beaumanoir. It was several years 
since he had visited the family of his friend, who 
jS were indeed also his kin; and in his boyish days had 
often proved that they were not unmindful of the 
affinity. This was a visit that had been long counted 
on, long promised, and which a variety of circum- 
stances had hitherto prevented. It was to have been 
made by the schoolboy : it w^as to be fulfilled by the 
man. For no less a character could Coningsby under 

147 






CONINGSBY Book III 

any circumstances now consent to claim, since he 
was closely verging to the completion of his nine — 
teenth year ; and it appeared manifest that if it were 
his destiny to do anything great, he had but few years 
to wait before the full development of his power. 
Visions of Gastons de Foix and Maurices of Saxony, 
statesmen giving up cricket to govern nations, beard- 
less Jesuits plunged in profound abstraction in 
omnipotent cabinets, haunted his fancy from the 
moment he had separated from his mysterious and 
deeply interesting companion. To nurture his 
mind with great thoughts had ever been Coningsby's 
inspiring habit. Was it also destined that he should 
achieve the heroic ? 

There are some books, when we close them — one 
or two in the course of our life — difficult as it may 
be to analyze or ascertain the cause, — our minds seem 
to have made a great leap. A thousand obscure 
things receive light; a multitude of indefinite feel- 
ings are determined. Our intellect grasps and 
grapples with all subjects with a capacity, a flexibility 
and a vigour, before unknown to us. It masters 
questions hitherto perplexing, which are not e 
touched or referred to in the volume just closi 
What is this magic? It is the spirit of the supre 
author that by a magnetic influence blends with 
sympathizing intelligence, directs and inspires 
By that mysterious sensibility we extend to questio: 
which he has not treated, the same intellectual fo: 
which he has exercised over those which he 
expounded. His genius for a time remains in 
'Tis the same with human beings as with books. All 
of us encounter, at least once in our lives, some 
individual who utters words that make us think for 
ever. There are men whose phrases are oracles 
~ — - 148 



I 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

who condense in a sentence the secrets of life ; who 
blurt out an aphorism that forms a character or illus- 
trates an existence. A great thing is a great book; 
but greater than all, is the talk of a great man ! 

And what is a great man? Is it a Minister of 
State ? Is it a victorious General ? A gentleman in 
the Windsor uniform? A Field Marshal covered 
with stars? Is it a Prelate, or a Prince? A King, 
even an Emperor? It may be all these; yet these, 
as we must all daily feel, are not necessarily great 
men. A great man is one who affects the mind 
of his generation : whether he be a monk in his 
cloister agitating Christendom, or a monarch cross- 
ing the Granicus, and giving a new character to the 
Pagan world. 

Our young Coningsby reached Beaumanoir in a 
state of meditation. ,He. also desired to be great. 
Not from the restless vanity that sometimes impels 
youth to momentary exertion by which they some- 
times obtain a distinction as evanescent as their 
ij energy. The ambition of our hero was altogether 
of a different character. It was indeed at present 
not a little vague, indefinite, hesitating, inquiring, 
sometimes desponding. What were his powers, 
what should be his aim, were to him, as to all young 
aspirants, often questions infinitely perplexing and 
full of pain. But, on the whole, there ran through 
his character, notwithstanding his many dazzling 
qualities and accomplishments, and his juvenile 
celebrity which has spoiled so much promise, a vein 
of grave simplicity that was the consequence of an 
earnest temper, and of an intellect that would be 
content with nothing short of the profound. 

His was a mind that loved to pursue every ques- 
tion to the centre. But it was not a spirit of seep- 

149 



1 



CONINGSBY Book III 

ticism that impelled this habit; on the contrary, it 
was the spirit of Faith. Coningsby found that he 
was born in an age of infidelity in all things, and his 
heart assured him that a want of faith was a want 
of nature. But his vigorous intellect could not take 
refuge in that maudlin substitute for belief which 
consists in a patronage of fantastic theories. He 
needed that deep and enduring conviction that the 
heart and the intellect, feeling and reason united, can 
alone supply. He asked himself why governments 
were hated, and religions despised.'^ Why Loyalty 
was dead, and Reverence only a galvanTsed corpse ? 

These were indeed questions that had as yet 
presented themselves to his thought in a very crude 
and imperfect form ; but their very occurrence 
showed the strong pre-disposition of his mind. It 
was because he had not found guides among his 
elders that his thoughts had been turned to the 
generation that he himself represented. The senti- 
ment of veneration was so developed in his nature, 
that he was exactly the youth that would have huj 
with enthusiastic humility on the accents of soi 
sage of old in the groves of Academus, or the poi 
of Zeno. But as yet he had found Age only p( 
plexed and desponding; Manhood only callous a^ 
desperate. Some thought that systems would li 
their time; others, that something would turn uj 
His deep and pious spirit recoiled with disgust and 
horror from such lax, chance-medley maxims, that 
would reduce in their consequences man to the level 
of the brutes. Notwithstanding a prejudice which 
had haunted him from his childhood, he had applied 
when the occasion offered to Mr. Rigby for instruc- 
tion; as one distinguished in the republic of letters, 
as well as the realm of politics, who assumed the 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

guidance of the public mind, and as the phrase runs, 
was looked up to. Mr. Rigby listened at first to 
the inquiries of Coningsby, urged, as they ever were, 
with a modesty and deference which do not always 
characterize juvenile investigations, as if Coningsby 
were speaking to him of the unknown tongues. 
But Mr. Rigby was not a man who ever confessed 
himself at fault. He caught up something of the 
subject as our young friend proceeded, and was per- 
fectly prepared long before he had finished, to take 
the whole conversation into his own hands. 

Mr. Rigby began by ascribing every thing to the 
Reform Bill, and then referred to several of his own 
speeches on Schedule A. Then he told Coningsby 
that want of religious Faith was solely occasioned 
by want of churches; and want of Loyalty, by 
George IV. having shut himself up too much at the 
Cottage in Windsor Park : entirely against the 
advice of Mr. Rigby. He assured Coningsby that 
the Church Commission was operating wonders, and 
that with private benevolence (he had himself sub- 
scribed ^looo, for Lord Monmouth) we should 
soon have churches enough. The great question 
now was their architecture. Had George IV. lived, 
all would have been right. They would have been 
built on the model of the Buddhist pagoda. As for 
Loyalty, if the present King went regularly to Ascot 
races, he had no doubt all would go right. Finally, 
Mr. Rigby impressed on Coningsby to read the 
Quarterly Review with great attention; and to 
make himself master of Mr. Wordy's History of 
the late War in twenty volumes, a capital work, 
which proved that Providence was on the side of 
the Tories. 

Coningsby did not apply to Mr. Rigby again; 
151 



CONINGSBY Book III 

but worked on with his own mind, coming often 
enough to sufficiently crude conclusions, and often 
very much perplexed and harassed. He tried occa- 
sionally his inferences on his companions, who were 
intelligent and full of fervour. .Millbank was more 
than this. He was of a very thoiaghtfuT mood ; had 
also some principles caught up from a new school, 
which were materials for discussion. One way or 
other however before he quitted Eton, there pre- 
vailed among this circle of friends, the initial idea 
doubtless emanating from Coningsby, an earnest, 
though a rather vague, conviction that the present 
state of feeling in matters both civil and religfous 
was not healthy; that there must be substituted for 
this latitudinarianism, something sound and deep, 
fervent and well defined, and that the priests of this 
new faith must be found among the New Genera- 
tion ; so that when the bright-minded rider of the 
■^Daughter of the Star ' descanted on the influence 
of individual character, of great thoughts and heroic 
actions, and the divine power of youth and genius, 
he touched a string that was the very heart-cord of 
his companion, who listened with fascinated enthusi- 
asm, as he introduced him to his gallery of inspiring 
models. 

Coningsby arrived at Beaumanoir at a season 
when men can neither hunt nor shoot. Great in- 
ternal resources should be found in a country family 
under such circumstances. The Duke and Duchess 
had returned from London only a few days with their 
daughter, who had been presented this year. They 
were all glad to find themselves again in the country 
which they loved, and which loved them. One of 
their sons-in-law and his wife, and Henry Sydney, 
completed the party. 

152 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

There are few conjunctures in life of a more start- 
ling interest, than to meet the pretty little girl that 
we have gambolled with in our boyhood, and to find 
her changed in the lapse of a very few years, which 
in some instances may not have brought a corres- 
ponding alteration in our own appearance, into a 
beautiful woman. Something of this flitted over 
Coningsby's mind, as he bowed, a little agitated 
from his surprise, to Lady Theresa Sydney. All 
that he remembered had prepared him for beauty; 
but not for the degree or character of beauty that he 
met. It was a rich, sweet face, with blue eyes and 
dark lashes, and a nose that we have no epithet to 
describe in English, but which charmed in Roxalana. 
Her brown hair fell over her white and well-turned 
shoulders in long and luxuriant tresses. One has 
met something as brilliant and dainty in a medallion 
of old Sevres, or amid the terraces and gardens of 
Watteau. 

Perhaps Lady Theresa too might have welcomed 
him with more freedom had his appearance also more 
accorded with the image which he had left behind. 
Coningsby was a boy then as we described him in 
our first chapter. Though only nineteen now, he 
had attained his full stature, which was above the 
middle height, and time had fulfilled that promise ^ Ax 
of symmetry in his figure, and grace in his mien, 
then- so largely intimated. Time too which had not 
yet robbed his countenance of any of its physical 
beauty, had strongly developed the intellectual charm 
by which it had ever been distinguished. As he 
bowed lowly before the Duchess and her daughter, 
it would have been difficult to imagine a youth of a 
mien more pre-possessing and a manner more 
finished. 



153 



I 




CONINGSBY Book III 

A manner that was spontaneous ; nature's pure 
gift, the reflex of his feeling. No artifice prompted 
that profound and polished homage. Not one of 
those influences, the aggregate of whose sway pro- 
duces, as they tell us, the finished gentleman, had 
ever exercised its beneficent power on our orphan, 
and not rarely forlorn, Coningsby. No clever and 
refined woman, with her quick perception, and nice 
criticism that never off"ends our self-love, had ever 
given him that education that is more precious than 
Universities. The mild suggestions of a sister, the 
gentle raillery of some laughing cousin, are also 
advantages not always appreciated at the time, but 
which boys, when they have become men, often 
think over with gratitude, and a little remorse at 
the ungracious spirit in which they were received. 
^^ ' Not even the dancing-master had afl'orded his 
f^^ mechanical aid to Coningsby, who, like all Eton 
boys of this generation, viewed that professor of 
accomplishments with frank repugnance. But even 
in the boisterous life of school, Coningsby, thougli 
his style was free and flowing, was always w^lL-bred. 
His spirit recoiled from that gross familiarity that is 
the characteristic of modern manners, and which 
would destroy all forms and ceremonies merely be- 
cause they curb and control their own coarse 
convenience and ill-disguised selfishness. To 
women however Coningsby instinctively bowed 
as to beings set apart tor reverence and delicate 
treatment. Little as his experience was of them, 
his spirit had been fed with chivalrous fancies, 
and he entertained for them all the ideal, devo- 
tion of a Surrey or a Sydney. Instructed, if 
not learned, as books and thought had already 
made him in men, he could not conceive that 

154 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

there were any other women in the world than fair 
Geraldines and Countesses of Pembroke. 

There was not a country-house in England that 
had so completely the air of habitual residence as 
Beaumanoir. It is a charming trait, and very rare. 
In many great mansions everything is as stifF, 
formal, and tedious, as if your host were a Spanish 
grandee in the days of the Inquisition. No ease, 
no resources ; the passing life seems a solemn spec- 
tacle in which you play a part. How delightful was 
the morning-room at Beaumanoir ; from which 
gentlemen were not excluded with that assumed 
suspicion that they can never enter it but for feloni- 
ous purposes. Such a profusion of flowers! Such 
a multitude of books! Such a various prodigality 
of writing materials ! So many easy chairs too of so 
many shapes ; each in itself a comfortable home ; yet 
nothing crowded. Woman alone can organise a 
drawing-room ; man succeeds sometimes in a lib- A^ 

rary. And the ladies' work ! How graceful they ^f ^.^ 
look bending over their embroidery frames, con- 
sulting over the arrangement of a group, or the 
colour of a flower. The panniers and fanciful 
baskets overflowing with variegated worsted, are 
gay and full of pleasure to the eye, and give an air 
of elegant business that is vivyfying. Even the 
sight of employment interests. 

Then the morning costume of English women is 
itself a beautiful work of art. At this period of the 
day, they can find no rivals in other climes. The 
brilliant complexions of the daughters of the north 
dazzle in daylight ; the illuminated saloon levels all 
distinctions. One should see them in their well- 
fashioned muslin dresses. What matrons, and what 
maidens ! Full of graceful dignity, fresher than the 



CONINGSBY Book III 

morn! And the married beauty in her little lace 
cap. Ah, she is a coquette! A charming character 
at all times ; in a country-house an invaluable one. 

A coquette is a being who wishes to please. Ami- 
able being ! If you do not like her, you will have no 
difficulty in finding a female companion of a diffe- 
rent mood. Alas ! coquettes are but too rare. 'Tis 
a career that requires great abilities, infinite pains, 
a gay and airy spirit. 'Tis the coquette that pro- 
vides all amusement; suggests the riding party, 
plans the pic-nic, gives and guesses charades, acts 
them. She is the stirring element amid the heavy 
congeries of social atoms ; the soul of the house, 
the salt of the banquet. Let any one pass a very 
agreeable week, or it may be ten days, under any 
roof and analyse the cause of his satisfaction, and 
one might safely make a gentle wager that his solu- 
tion would present him with the frolick phantom of 
a coquette. 

' It is impossible that Mr. Coningsby can remem- 
ber me ?^ said a clear gay voice; and he looked round 
and was greeted by a pair of sparkling eyes and the 
gayest smile in the world. 

It was Lady Everingham, the Duke's married 
daughter. 

CHAPTER III 

' And you walked here,' said Lady Everingham to 
Coningsby, when the stir of arranging themselves 
at dinner had subsided. ' Only think, papa, Mr. 
Coningsby walked here ! I also am a great walker.' 

' I had heard much of the forest,' said Coningsby. 

* Which I am sure did not disappoint you,' said 
the Duke. 

156 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

' But forests without adventures,' said Lady Ever- 
ingham, a little shrugging her pretty shoulders. 

' But I had an adventure,' said Coningsby. 

' Oh ! tell it us by all means ! ' said the Lady with 
great animation. ' Adventures are my weakness. 
1 have had more adventures than any one. Have I 
not had, Augustus.^' she added, addressing her hus- : '^^'^^^ 
band. ^^<JU ^ , ' 

' But you make everything out to be an adventure, "^ 
Isabel,' said Lord Everingham. ' I dare say that 
Mr. Coningsby's was more substantial.' And look- 
ing at our young friend, he invited him to inform 
them. 

' I met a most extraordinary man,' said Coningsby. 

' It should have been a heroine ! ' exclaimed Lady 
Everingham. 

' Do you know anybody in this neighbourhood 
who rides the finest Arab in the world .'^' asked Con- 
ingsby. ' She is called the " Daughter of the Star," 
and was given to her rider by the Pacha of Egypt.' 

' This is really an adventure,' said Lady Evering- 
ham interested. 

' The Daughter of the Star ! ' said Lady Theresa. 
' What a pretty name ! Percy has a horse called 
" Sunbeam." ' 

*A fine Arab, the finest in the world!' said the 
Duke who was very fond of horses. ' Who can it 
be?' 

' Can you throw any light on this, Mr. Lyle ?' 
asked the Duchess of a young man who sat next her. 

He was a neighbour who had joined her dinner 
party. Eustace Lyle, a Roman Catholic, and the 
richest commoner in the county ; for he had suc- 
ceeded to a great estate early in his minority, which 
had only this year terminated. 

157 



CONINGSBY Book III 

' I certainly do not know the horse,' said Mr. 
Lyle ; * but if Mr. Coningsby would describe the 
rider, perhaps — ' 

' He is a man something under thirty,' said Con- 
ingsby, ' pale, with dark hair. We met in a sort of 
forest inn during a storm. A most singular man! 
Indeed I never met any one who seemed to me so 
clever, or to say such remarkable things.' 

' He must have been the spirit of the storm,' said 
Lady Everingham. 

' Charles Verney has a great deal of dark hair,' 
said Lady Theresa. * But then he is anything but 
pale, and his eyes are blue.' 

* And certainly he keeps his wonderful things for 
your ear, Theresa,' said her sister. 

* I wish that Mr. Coningsby would tell us some 
of the wonderful things he said,' said the Duchess 
smiling. 

' Take a glass of wine first with my mother, Con- 
ingsby,' said Henry Sydney, who had just finished 
helping them all to fish. 

Coningsby had too much tact to be entrapped 
into a long story. He already regretted that he had 
been betrayed into any allusion to the stranger. He 
had a wild fanciful notion that their meeting ought 
to have been preserved as a sacred secret. But he 
had been impelled to refer to it in the first instance 
by the chance observation of Lady Everingham; and 
he had pursued his remark from the hope that the 
conversation might have led to the discovery of the 
unknown. When he found that his inquiry in this 
respect was unsuccessful, he was willing to turn the 
conversation. In reply to the Duchess then, he 
generally described the talk of the stranger as full 
of lively anecdote and epigrammatic views of life ; 

?58 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

and gave them, for example, a saying of a very illus- 
trious foreign Prince, which was quite new and 
pointed, and which Coningsby told well. This led 
to a new train of discourse. The Duke also knew 
this illustrious foreign Prince, and told another story 
of him ; and Lord Everingham had played whist 
with this illustrious foreign Prince very often at the 
Travellers', and this led to a third story ; none of 
them too long. Then Lady Everingham came in 
again, and sparkled very agreeably. She indeed 
sustained throughout dinner the principal weight of 
the conversation ; but as she asked questions of every 
body, all seemed to contribute. Even the voice of 
Mr. Lyle, who was rather bashful, was occasionally 
heard in reply. Coningsby, who had at first unin- 
tentionally taken a more leading part than he 
aspired to, would have retired into the background 
for the rest of the dinner, but Lady Everingham 
continually signalled him out for her questions, and 
as she sat opposite to him, he seemed the person to 
whom they were principally addressed. 

At length the ladies rose to retire. A very great 
personage in a foreign, but not remote, country, once 
mentioned to the writer of these pages, that he 
ascribed the superiority of the English in political 
life in their conduct of public business and practical 
views of affairs, in a great measure to ' that little 
half hour ' that separates after dinner, the dark from 
the fair sex. The writer humbly submitted, that if 
the period of disjunction were strictly limited to 
a ' little half hour,' its salutory consequences for 
both sexes need not be disputed, but that in Eng- 
land the ' little half hour ' was too apt to swell into 
a term of far more awful character and duration. 
Lady Everingham was a disciple of the ' very little 

159 



CONINGSBY Book III 

half hour ' school ; for as she gaily followed her 
mother, she said to Coningsby, whose happy lot it 
was to usher them from the apartment, 

' Pray, do not be too long at the Board of Guar- 
dians to-day.' 

These were prophetic words. For no sooner were 
they all again seated, than the Duke filling his glass, 
and pushing the claret to Coningsby, observed : 

' I suppose Lord Monmouth does not trouble 
himself much about the New Poor Law.^^' 

' Hardly,' said Coningsby. * My grandfather's 
frequent absence from England, which his health I 
believe renders quite necessary, deprives him of the 
advantage of personal observation on a subject, than 
which I can myself conceive none more deeply in- 
teresting.' 

' I am glad to hear you say so,' said the Duke, 
' and it does you great credit and Henry too, whose 
attention I observe is directed very much to these 
subjects. In my time, the young men did not 
think so much of such things, and we suffer conse- 
quently. By the bye, Everingham, you, who are a 
chairman of a Board of Guardians, can give me some 
information. Supposing a case of out-door relief — ' 

* I could not suppose anything so absurd,' said 
the son-in-law. 

' Well,' rejoined the Duke. * I know your views 
on that subject, and it certainly is a question on 
which there is a good deal to be said. But would 
you under any circumstances give relief out of the 
Union even if the parish were to save a considerable, 
sum ?^ 

* I wish I knew the Union where such a system 
was followed,' said Lord Everingham ; and his grace 
seemed to tremble vmder his son-in-law's glance. 

i6o 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

The Duke had a good heart, and not a bad head. 
If he had not made in his youth so many Latin and 
English verses, he might have acquired considerable 
information, for he had a natural love of letters, V 
though his pack were the pride of England, his 
barrel seldom missed, and his fortune on the turf, 
where he never betted, was a proverb. He was 
good, and he wished to do good ; but his views were 
confused from want of knowledge ; and his con- 
duct often inconsistent because a sense of duty made 
him immediately active, — and he often acquired in 
the consequent experience, a conviction exactly con- 
trary to that which had prompted his activity. 

His Grace had been a great patron and a zealous 
administrator of the New Poor Law. He had been 

I persuaded that it would elevate the condition of the 
labouring class. His son-in-law. Lord Evering- 

1 ham, who was a Whig, and a clear-headed, cold- 
blooded man, looked upon the New Poor Law as 
another Magna Charta. Lord Everingham was 
completely master of the subject. He was himself 
the Chairman of one of the most considerable 
Unions in the kingdom. The Duke, if he ever had 
a misgiving, had no chance in argument with his 
son-in-law. Lord Everingham overwhelmed him 
with quotations from Commissioners' rules, and 
Sub-Commissioners' reports, statistical tables, and 
references to dietaries. Sometimes with a strong 
case, the Duke struggled to make a fight ; but Lord 
Everingham, when he was at fault for a reply, which 
was very rare, upbraided his father-in-law with the 
abuses of the old system, and frightened him with 
visions of rates exceeding rentals. 

Of late however a considerable change had taken 
place in the Duke's feelings on this great question. 






CONINGSBY Book III 

His son Henry entertained strong opinions upon it, 
and had combatted his father with all the fervour of 
a young votary. A victory over his Grace indeed 
was not very difficult. His natural impulse would 
have early enlisted him on the side, if not of opposi- 
tion to the new system, at least of critical suspicion 
of its spirit and provisions. It was only the statis- 
tics and sharp acuteness of his son-in-law, that had 
indeed ever kept him to his colours. Lord Henry 
would not listen to statistics, dietary tables. Com- 
missioners' rules, Sub-Commissioners' reports. He 
went far higher than his father ; far deeper than his 
brother-in-law. He represented to the Duke that 
thejDrder of the Peasantry was as ancient, legal, and 
Recognised an order as the order of the Nobility ; 
_that it had distinct rights and privileges though for 
__centuries they had been invaded and violated, and 
permitted to fall into desuetude. He impressed 
upon the Duke that the parochial constitution 
this country was more important than its politS 
constitution ; that it was more ancient, more ul 
versal in its influence; and that this parochial c( 
stitution had already been shaken to its centre 
the New Poor Law. .He assured his father that 
'would never be well for England until this order] 
^e Peasantry was restored to its pristine conditio}^ 
riot merely in physical comfort, for that must vary 
according to the economical circumstances of the 
time like that of every class; but to its condition in 
all those moral attributes, which make a recognised 
rank in the nation ; and which in a great degree, are 
independent of economics ; manners, customs, cere- 
monies, rights, and privileges. 

' Henry thinks,' said Lord Everingham, ' that the 
people are to be fed by dancing round a May-pole.' 

162 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

' But will the people be more fed because they do 
not dance round a May-pole?' urged Lord Henry. 

'Obsolete customs!' said Lord Everingham. 

' And why should dancing round a May-pole be 
more obsolete than holding a Chapter of the Garter?' 
asked Lord Henry. 

The Duke, who was a blue ribbon, felt this a home 
thrust. ' I must say,' said his Grace, * that I for 
one deeply regret that our popular customs have 
been permitted to fall so into desuetude.' 

' The Spirit of the Age is against such things,' 
said Lord Everingham. 

' And what is the Spirit of the Age?' asked Con- 

ingsby. \a 

' The Spirit of Utility,' said Lord Everingham. f ( 
' And you then think that ceremony is not useful ?' 
urged Coningsby mildly. 

' It depends upon circumstances,' said Lord Ever- 
ingham. ' There are some ceremonies no doubt 
that are very proper, and of course very useful. But 
the best thing we can do for the labouring classes is 
to |)r6vide them with work.' 

' But what do you mean by the labouring classes, 
Everingham?' asked Lord Henry. 'Lawyers are 
i a labouring class for instance, and by the bye suffi- 
I ciently provided with work. But would you approve 
i of Westminster Hall being denuded of all its cere- 
; monies?' 

' And the long vacation being abolished ?' added 
Coningsby. 

' Theresa brings me terrible accounts of the suffer- 
ings of the poor about us,' said the Duke, shaking 
his head. 

' Women think everything to be suffering ! ' said 
Lord Everingham. 

163 



CONINGSBY Book III 

' How do you find them about you, Mr. Lyle?' 
continued the Duke. 

h ^ve r.pyivH the monastic customs at St. 
^__ Genevieve,' said the young man blushing very 
much. * Jjbere is an almsgiving twice a week.' 

TTani sure I wish I could see the labouring classes 
happy,' said the Duke. 

' Oh ! pray do not use, my dear father, that phrase 
the labouring classes!' said Lord Henry. 'What 
do you think, Coningsby, the other day we had a 
meeting in this neighbourhood to vote an agricul- 
tural petition that was to comprise all classes. I 
went with my father, and I was made chairman of 
the committee to draw up the petition. Of course 
I described it as the petition of the nobility, clergy, 
' gentry, yeomanry, and peasantry of the County of 

; and could you believe it, they struck out 

peasantry as a word no longer used, and inserted 
labourers.'^ 

' What can it signify,' said Lord Everingham, 
' whether a man be called a labourer or a peasant!' 

* And what can it signify,' said his brother-in-law, 
' whether a man be called Mr. Howard or Lord 
Everingham !' 

They were the most affectionate family under this 
roof of Beaumanoir, and of all members of it Lord 
Henry the sweetest tempered, and yet it was 
astonishing what sharp skirmishes every day arose 
between him and his brother-in-law during ' that 
little half hour,' that forms so happily the political 
character of the nation. The Duke who from experi- 
ence felt that a guerilla movement was impending, 
asked his guests whether they would take any more 
claret ; and on their signifying their dissent, moved 
an adjournment to the ladies. 

164 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

They joined the ladies in the music room. Con- 
ingsby not experienced in feminine society, and who 
found a Httle difficulty from want of practice in 
maintaining conversation, though he was very desir- 
ous of succeeding, was delighted with Lady Ever- 
ingham, who instead of requiring to be amused, 
amused him ; and suggested so many subjects, and 
glanced at so many topics, that there never was that 
cold awkward pause so common with sullen spirits 
and barren brains. Lady Everingham thoroughly 
understood the art of conversation, which indeed con- 
sists of the exercise of two fine qualities. You must 
originate, and you must sympathize ; you must 
possess at the same time the habit of communicating, 
and the habit of listening. The union is rather 
rare, but irresistible. 

Lady Everingham was not a celebrated beauty, 
but she was something infinitely more delightful— a 
captivating woman. There were combined in her 
qualities not commonly met together, great vivacity 
of mind with great grace of m.anner. Her words 
sparkled and her movements charmed. There v/as 
indeed in all she said and did that congruity that 
indicates a complete and harmonious organization. 
It was the same just proportion which characterised . L. Jjr 
her form : a shape slight and undulating with grace; \Jy^ j( 
the most beautifully shaped ear; a small, soft hand; "^ *^ y\ 
a foot that would have fitted the glass slipper; and -^^^ 

which, by the bye, she lost no opportunity of dis- l\^^ 

playing. 0^^\ 

Then there was music. Lady Theresa sung like a 
seraph : a rich voice, a grand style. And her sister 
could support her with grace and sweetness. And 
they did not sing too much. The Duke took up a 
review, and looked at Rigby's last slashing article. 

165 



CONINGSBY Book III 

The country seemed ruined, but it appeared that the 
Whigs were still worse off than the Tories. The 
assassins had committed suicide. This poetical 
justice is pleasing. Lord Everingham lounging in 
an easy chair perused with great satisfaction his 
Morning Chronicle, which contained a cutting reply 
to Mr. Rigby's article, not quite so ' slashing ' as the 
Right Honourable scribe's manifesto, but with some 
searching mockery, that became the subject and the 
subject-monger. 

Mr. Lyle seated himself by the Duchess and 
encouraged by her amenity, and speaking in whis- 
pers, became animated and agreeable, occasionally 
patting the lap-dog. Coningsby stood by the 
singers, or talked with them when the music had 
ceased ; and Henry Sydney looked over a volume of 
Strutt's Sports and Pastimes, occasionally, without 
taking his eyes off the volume calling the attention 
of his friends to his discoveries. 

Mr. Lyle rose to depart, for he had some miles to 
return ; he came forward with some hesitation to 
hope that Coningsby would visit his bloodhounds, 
which Lord Henry had told him that Coningsby had 
expressed a wish to do. Lady Everingham re- 
marked that she had not been at St. Genevieve since 
she was a girl, and it appeared that Lady Theresa 
had never visited it. Lady Everingham proposed 
that they should all ride over on the morrow, and 
she appealed to her husband for his approbation, 
instantly given, for though she loved admiration, 
and he apparently was an iceberg, they were really 
devoted to each other. Then there was a consulta- 
tion as to their arrangements. The Duchess would 
drive over in her pony chaise with Theresa. The 
Duke as usual had affairs that would occupy him. 

i66 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

The rest were to ride. It was a happy suggestion, 
all anticipated pleasure ; and the evening ter- 
minated with the prospect of what Lady Evering- 
ham called an adventure. 

The ladies themselves soon withdrew; the gentle- 
men lingered for a while ; the Duke took up his 
candle, and bid his guests good night ; Lord Ever- 
ingham drank a glass of Seltzer water, nodded and 
vanished. Lord Henry and his friend sate up talk- 
ing over the past. They were too young to call 
them old times ; and yet what a life seemed to have 
elapsed since they had quitted Eton, dear old Eton ! 
Their boyish feelings, and still latent boyish char- 
acter, developed with their reminiscences. 

' Do you remember Bucknall ? Which Buck- 
nail ? The eldest : I saw him the other day at 
Nottingham; he is in the Rifles. Do you remember 
that day at Sirly Hall, that Paulet had that row 
with Dickinson ? Did you like Dickinson ? Hum ! 
Paulet was a good fellow. I tell you who was a 
good fellow, — Paulet's little cousin. What! Au- 
gustus Le Grange. Oh! I liked Augustus Le 
Grange. I wonder where Buckhurst is. I had a 
letter from him the other day. He has gone with 
his uncle to Paris. We shall find him at Cambridge 
in October. I suppose you know Millbank has gone 
to Oriel. Has he though ! I wonder who will have 
our room at Cookesley's .^ — Cookesley was a good 
fellow! Oh, capital! How well he behaved when 
there was that row about our going out with 
the hounds! Do you remember Vere's face.^^ It 
.makes me laugh now when I think of it. I tell 
you who was a good fellow. Kangaroo Grey ; 1 
liked him. I don't know any fellow who sang a 
better sonsfl' 



ong 



167 



CONINGSBY Book III 

' By the bye,' said Coningsby, ' what sort of a 
fellow is Eustace Lyle ? I rather liked his look.' | 

* Oh ! I will tell you all about him,' said Lord » 
Henry. ' He is a great ally of mine, and I think [ 
you will like him very much. It is a Roman Catho- 
lic family, about the oldest we have in the county, 
and the wealthiest. You see, Lyle's father was the 
most violent ultra Whig, and so were all Eustace's 
guardians ; but the moment he came of age, he 
announced that he should not mix himself up with 
either of the parties in the county, and that his 
tenantry might act exactly as they thought fit. My 
father thinks of course that Lyle is a Conservative, 
and that he only waits the occasion to come forward, 
but he is quite wrong. I know Lyle well, and he 
speaks to me without disguise. ^ You see 'tis an old 

_Cavalier family, and Lyle has all the opinions and 
feelings of his race. He will not ally himself with 
anti-monarchists, and democrats, and infidels, and 
sectarians ; at the same time wily should he support 
a party who pretend to oppose these, but who never 
lose an opportunity of insulting his religion, and 
would deprive him, if possible, of the advantages of 
the very institutions which his family assisted in 
establishing.?' 

' Why, indeed ? I am glad to have made his 
acquaintance,' said Coningsby ; ' Is he clever ?^ 

' I think so,' said Lord Henry. ' He is the most 
shy fellow, especially among women, that I ever 
knew, but he is very popular in the county. He 
does an amazing deal of good, and is one of the best 
riders we have. My father says the very best; bold, 
but so very certain.' 

* He is older than we are ?' 

* My senior by a year ; he is just of age.' 

1 68 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 



I 



' Ohj__ahJ--lwenty one. A year younger than^ 
Gaston^^e Foix when he won Ravenna, and four 
years youiiger Ihan John ~6f Austria wlien he won 
tepanto,' observed Coningsby, musingly. ^ I vote 
we go to bed, old fellow P wKT^TfT^f 



CHAPTER IV 

In a valley, not far from the margin of a beautiful 
river, raised on a lofty and artificial terrace at the 
base of a range of wooded heights, v/as a pile of 
modern building in the finest style of Christian 
architecture. It was of great extent and richly 
decorated. Built of a white and glittering stone, it 
sparkled with its pinnacles in the sunshine as it rose 
in strong relief against its verdant background. The 
winding valley which was studded, but not too 
closely studded, with clumps of old trees, formed 
for a great extent on either side of the mansion a 
grassy demesne, which was called the Lower Park ; 
but it was a region bearing the name of the Upper 
Park that was the peculiar and most picturesque 
feature of this splendid residence. The v/ooded 
heights that formed the valley, were not, as they 
first appeared, a range of hills. Their crest was only 
the abrupt termination of a vast and enclosed table- 
land, abounding in all the qualities of the ancient 
chase; turf and trees, a wilderness of underwood, 
and a vast spread of gorse and fern. The deer, that 
abounded, lived here in a world as savage as them- 
selves : trooping down in the evening to the river. 
Some of them indeed were ever in sight of those who 
were in the valley, and you might often observe 
various groups clustered on the green heights above 

169 



CONINGSBY Book III 

the mansion, the effect of which was most inspiriting 
and graceful. Sometimes in the twilight, a solitary 
form, magnified by the illusive hour, might be seen 
standing on the brink of the steep, large and black 
against the clear sky. 

We have endeavoured slightly to sketch St. 
Genevieve as it appeared to our friends at Beau- 
manoir, winding into the valley the day after Mr. 
Lyle had dined v/ith them. The valley opened for 
about half-a-mile opposite the mansion, which gave 
to the dwellers in it a view over an extensive and 
richly cultivated country. It was through this dis- 
trict that the party from Beaumanoir had pursued 
their way. The first glance at the building, its 
striking situation, its beautiful form, its brilliant 
colour, its great extent, a gathering as it seemed of 
galleries, halls, and chapels, mullioned windows, 
portals of clustered columns, and groups of airy 
pinnacles and fretwork spires, called forth a general 
cry of wonder and praise. 

The ride from Beaumanoir had been delightful ; 
the breath of summer in every breeze, the light of 
summer on every tree. The gay laugh of Lady 
Everingham rang frequently in the air; often were 
her sunny eyes directed to Coningsby, as she called 
his attention to some fair object or some pretty 
effect. She played the hostess of Nature and intro- 
duced him to all the beauties. 

Mr. Lyle had recognised them. He cantered 
forward with greetings on a fat little fawn-coloured 
pony, with a long white mane and white flowing 
tail, and the wickedest eye in the world. He rode 
by the side of the Duchess, and indicated their 
gently-descending route. 

They arrived, and the peacocks, who were sun- 
/ 170 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

ning themselves on the turrets, expanded their plum- 
age to welcome them. 

* I can remember the old house,' said the 
Duchess as she took Mr. Lyle's arm ; * and I am 
happy to see the new one. The Duke had prepared 
me for much beauty, but the reality exceeds his 
report.' 

They entered by a short corridor into a large hall. 
They would have stopped to admire its rich roof, its 
gallery and screen ; but their host suggested that 
they should refresh themselves after their ride, and 
they followed him through several apartments into 
a spacious chamber, its oaken panels covered with a 
series of most interesting pictures representing the 
siege of Genevieve by the Parliament forces in 
1643 • ^^^ various assaults and sallies, and the final 
discomfiture of the rebels. In all these, figured a_ 
brave and graceful Sir Eustace" Lyle, in cuirass and 
buff jerkin, with gleaming sj^ord and flowing plume. 
The sight of these pictures was ever a source of great 
excitement to Henry Sydney, who always lamented 
his ill-luck in not living in such days ; nay, would 
insist tliaTall others must equally deplore their evil 
destiny. 

* See, Coningsby, this battery on the Upper Park,' 
said Lord Henry. ' This did the business : how 
it rakes up the valley ! Sir Eustace works it himself. 
Mother, what a pity that Beaumanoir was not be- 
sieged ! ' 

* It may be,' said Coningsby. 

' I always fancy a siege must be so very interest- 
ing,' said Lady Everingham. ' It must be so ex- 
citing.' 

' I hope the next siege may be at Beaumanoir, 
instead of St. Genevieve,' said Lyle laughing ; ^ as 

171 



CONINGSBY Book III 



Henry Sydney has such a military predisposition. 
Duchess, you said the other day that you liked 
Malvoisie, and here is some.' 

* Now broach me a cask of Malvoisie, 
Bring pasty of the doe ;' 

said the Duchess. ' That has been my luncheon.' 

* A poetic repast,' said Lady Theresa. 

' Their breeds of sheep must have been very 
inferior in old days,' said Lord Everingham, ' as they 
made such a noise about their venison. For my 
part, I consider it a thing as much gone by as tilts 
and tournaments.' 

' I am very sorry that they have gone by,' said 
Lady Theresa. 

' Everything has gone by that is beautiful,' said 
Lord Henry. 

* Life is much easier,' said Lord Everingham. 
'Life easy!' said Lord Henry. 'Life appears 

me to be a fierce struggle.' 

' Manners are easy,' said Coningsby, ' and life 
hard.' 

' And I wish to see things exactly the reverse 
said Lord Henry. ' The means and modes of sul 
sistence less difficult; the conduct of life more cer( 
monious.' 

' Civilization has no time for ceremony,' sai 
Lord Everingham. 

' How very sententious you all are,' said his wii 
' I want to see the hall and many other things.' An| 
they all rose. 

There were indeed many other things to see : 
long gallery rich in ancestral portraits, specimens 
art and costume from Holbein to Lawrence; coui 
tiers of the Tudors and cavaliers of the Stuarti 

172 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

terminating in red-coated squires fresh from the 
field and gentlemen buttoned up in black coats, and 
sitting in library chairs with their backs to a crimson 
curtain. Woman however is always charming ; and 
the present generation may view their mothers 
painted by Lawrence, as if they were patronesses of 
Almacks, or their grandmothers by Reynolds, as 
Robinettas caressing birds, with as much delight as 
they gaze on the dewy-eyed matrons of Lely and the 
proud bearing of the heroines of Vandyke. But 
what interested them more than the gallery or the 
rich saloons, or even the baronial hall, was the 
chapel, in which art had exhausted all its invention, 
1 and wealth offered all its resources. The walls and 
I vaulted roofs entirely painted in encaustic by the 
first artists of Germany, and representing the prin- 
cipal events of the second Testament, the splendour 
of the mosaic pavement, the richness of the painted 
windows, the sumptuousness of the altar, crowned 
, by a master-piece of Carlo Dolce and surrounded by 
a silver rail, the tone of rich and solemn light that 
pervaded all, and blended all the various sources of 
beauty into one absorbing and harmonious whole ; 
; all combined to produce an effect that stilled them 
I into a silence that lasted for some minutes, until the 
I ladies breathed their feelings in an almost inarticulate 
! murmur of reverence and admiration ; while a tear 
■ stole to the eye of the enthusiastic Henry Sydney. ^ 

Leaving the chapel they sauntered through the 
gardens, until arriving at their limit, they were met 
; by the prettiest sight in the world; a group of little 
! pony chairs, each drawn by a little fat fawn-coloured 
pony, like the one that Mr. Lyle had been riding. 
Lord Henry drove his mother; Lord Everingham 
Lady Theresa ; Lady Everingham was attended by 

173 



CONLNGSBY Book III 

Coningsby. Their host cantered by the Duchesses 
side, and along winding roads of very easy ascent, 
leading through the most beautiful woods, and offer- 
ing the most charming landscapes, they reached in 
due time the Upper Park. 

* One sees our host to very great advantage in his 
own house,' said Lady Everingham. ' He is scarcely 
the same person. I have not observed him once 
blush. He speaks and moves with ease. It is a 
pity that he is not more graceful. Above all things I 
like a graceful man.' 

' That chapel,' said Coningsby, ' was a fine thing.' 

' Very,' said Lady Everingham. ' Did you ob- 
serve the picture over the altar ; the Virgin with 
blue eyes.f^ I never observed blue eyes before in 
such a picture. What is your favourite colour for 
eyes.^' 

Coningsby felt embarrassed; he said something 
rather pointless about admiring everything that is 
beautiful. 

' But every one has a favourite style ; I want 
know yours. Regular features — do you like regi 
lar features ? Or is it expression that pleases you ?\ 

' Expression ; I think I like expression. Expn 
sion must be always delightful.' 

' Do you dance .'^' 

* No, I am no great dancer. I fear I have ve| 
few accomplishments. I am very fond of fencing. 

' I don't fence,' said Lady Everingham with 
smile. * But I think you are right not to dance, 
is not in your way. You are very ambitious I b< 
lieve.f^' she added. 

' I was not aware of it ; everybody is ambitious. 

' You see I know something of your charactei 
Henry has spoken of you to me a great deal; loi 

'74 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 



before we met — met again I should say, for we are 
very old friends, remember. Do you know your 
career very much interests me? 1 like ambitious 
men.' 

There is something very fascinating in the first 
idea that your career interests a charming woman. 
Coningsby felt that he was perhaps driving a 
Madame de Longueville. A woman who likes 
ambitious men must be no ordinary character; clearly 
a sort of heroine. At this moment they reached the 
Upper Park, and the novel landscape changed the 
current of their remarks. 

Far as the eye could reach there spread before 
them a savage sylvan scene. It wanted perhaps un- 
dulation"" of surface, but that deficiency was greatly 
compensated by the multitude and prodigious size 
of the trees ; they were the largest indeed that could 
be well met with in England, and there is no part of 
Europe where the timber is so huge. The broad 
interminable glades, the vast avenues, the quantity of 
deer browsing or bounding in all directions, the 
thickets of yellow gorse and green fern, and the 
breeze that even in the stillness of summer was ever 
playing over this table land, all produced an ani- 
mated and renovating scene. It was like suddenly 
visiting another country, living among other man- 
ners, and breathing another air. They stopped for 
a few minutes at a pavilion built for the purposes of 
the chace, and then returned, all gratified by this 
visit to what appeared to be the higher regions of 
the earth. 

As they approached the brow of the hill, that hung 
over St. Genevieve, they heard the great bell sound. 

* What is that .?' asked the Duchess. 

* It is almsgiving day,' replied Mr. Lyle looking 

175 



CONINGSBY Book III 

a little embarrassed, and for the first time blushing. 
' The people of the parishes with which I am con- 
nected come to St. Genevieve twice a week at this 
hour.' 

' And what is your system?' inquired Lord Ever- 
ingham, who had stopped, interested by the scene. 
' What check have you.^^' 

* The rectors of the different parishes grant cer- 
tificates to those who in their belief merit bounty 
according to the rules which I have established. 
These again are visited by my Almoner, who counter- 
signs the certificate, and then they present it at the 
postern-gate. The certificate explains the nature of 
their necessities, and my steward acts on his dis- 
cretion.' 

' Mamma, I see them,' exclaimed Lady Theresa. 

' Perhaps your Grace may think that they might 
be relieved without all this ceremony,' said Mr. Lyle, 
extremely confused. ' But I agree with Henry and 
Mr. Coningsby that Ceremony is not, as too com- 
monly supposed, an idle form, I wish the people con- 
stantly and visibly to comprehend that Property is 
jtheir protector and their friend.' 
/ * My reason is with you, Mr. Lyle,' said the 
' Duchess, ' as well as my heart.' 

They came along the valley, a procession of 
Nature, whose groups an artist might have studied. 
The old man, who loved the pilgrimage too much 
to avail himself of the privilege of a substitute 
accorded to his grey hairs. He came in person with 
his grandchild and his staff. There also came the 
widow with her child at the breast, and others cling- 
ing to her form ; some sorrowful faces, and some 
pale ; many a serious one ; and now and then a frolic 
glance ; many a dame in her red cloak, and many a 

176 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

maiden with her light basket, curly-headed urchins 
with demure looks, and sometimes a stalwart form 
baffled for a time of the labour which he desired. 
But not a heart there that did not bless the bell that 
sounded from the tower of St. Genevieve! 



CHAPTER V 

* My fathers perilled their blood and fortunes for the 
cause of the Sovereignty and Church of England,' 
said Lyle to Coningsby, as they were lying stretched 
out on the sunny turf in the park of Beaumanoir, 
' and I inherit their passionate convictions. They 
were Catholics as their descendant. No doubt they 
would have been glad to see their ancient faith pre- 
dominant in their ancient land ; but they bowed, as 
I bow, to an adverse and apparently irrevocable 
decree. But if we could not have the Church of our 
fathers, we honoured and respected the Church of 
their children. It was at least a Church ; a " Catho- 
) lie and Apostolic Church," as it daily declares itself. 
j Besides, it was our friend. When we were perse- 
j cuted by Puritanic Parliaments, it was the Sovereign 
! and the Church of England that interposed, with the 
certainty of creating against themselves odium and 
: mistrust, to shield us from the dark and relentless 
bigotry of Calvinism.' 

' I believe,' said Coningsby, ' that if Charles I. 
had hanged all the Catholic priests that Parliament 
petitioned him to execute, he would never have lost 
his crown.' 

' You were mentioning my father,' continued 
Lyle. ' He was certainly a Whig. Galled by 
political exclusion, he connected himself with that 
party in the state, which began to intimate emanci- 
U 177 






CONINGSBY Book III 

pation. After all, they did not emancipate us.^ It 
was the fall of the Papacy in England that founded 
rj,Q the Whig aristocracy; a fact that must always lie at 

\^; the bottom of their hearts ; and I assure you does of 
C^ mine. 

' I gathered at an early age,' continued Lyle, ' that 
it was expected that I was to inherit my father's poli- 
tical connections with the family estates. Under 
ordinary circumstances this would probably have 
occurred. In times that did not force one to ponder, 
it is not likely I should have recoiled from uniting 
myself with a party formed of the best families in 
England, and ever famous for accomplished men 
and charming women. But I enter life in the 
midst of a convulsion in which the very principles 
of our political and social systems are called in ques- 
tion. I cannot unite myself with the party of destruc- 
tion. It is an operative cause alien to my being. 
What then offers itself .^^ The Duke talks to me of 
Conservative principles ; but he does not inform 
me what they are. I observe indeed a party in the 
State whose rule it is to consent to no change, until 
it is clamorously called for, and then instantly to 
yield ; but those are Concessionary, not Conserva- 
tive principles. This party treats institutions as we 
do our pheasants, they preserve only to destroy them. 
But is there a statesman among these conservatives 
who offers us a dogma for a guide, or defines any 
great political truth which we should aspire to estab- 
lish ? It seems to me a barren thing — this Con- n 
servatism — an unhappy cross-breed, the mule of 
politics that engenders nothing. What do you thini 
of all this, Coningsby.*^ I assure you I feel con- 
fused, perplexed, harassed. I know I have public 
duties to perform ; I am in fact every day of my life 

178 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

solicited by all parties to throw the weight of my 
influence in one scale or another; but I am para- 
lysed. I often wish I had no position in the coun- 
try. The sense of its responsibility depresses me ; 
makes Ihe miserable. I speak to you without 
reserve ; with a frankness which our short acquaint- 
ance scarcely authorizes ; but Henry Sydney has 
talked of you so often to me, and I have so long 
wished to know you, that I open my heart without 
restraint.' 

* My dear fellow,' said Coningsby, ' you have but 
described my feelings when you depictured your 
I own. My mind on these subjects has long been a 
I chaos. I float in a sea of troubles, and should long 
I ago have been wrecked had I not been sustained by 
1 a profound, however vague, conviction, that there 
I are still great truths, if we could but work them out; 
I that Government for instance should be loved and 
' not hated, and that Religion should be a faith and 
not a form.' 

The moral influence of residence fiarnishes some of 
the most interesting traits of our national manners. 
The presence of this power was very apparent 
throughout the district that surrounded Beaumanoir. 
The ladies of that house were deeply sensible of the 
responsibility of their position ; thoroughly com- 
prehending their duties, they fulfilled them without 
aflectation, with earnestness, and with that efi^ect 
'which springs from a knowledge of the subject. 
The consequences were visible in the superior tone 
of the peasantry to that which we too often witness. 
The ancient feudal feeling that lingers in these 
sequestered haunts, is an instrument which, when 
skilfully wielded, may be productive of vast social 
jBenefit. The Duke understood this well; and his 

r 



CONINGSBY Book III 

family had imbibed all his views and seconded them. 
Lady Everingham, once more in the scene of her 
past life, resumed the exercise of gentle offices, as 
if she had never ceased to be a daughter of the house, 
and as if another domain had not its claims upon her 
solicitude. Coningsby was often the companion of 
herself and her sister in their pilgrimages of charity 
and kindness. He admired the graceful energy, 
and thorough acquaintance with details, with which 
Lady Everingham superintended schools, organised 
societies of relief, and the discrimination which she 
brought to bear upon individual cases of suffering 
or misfortune. He was deeply interested as he 
watched the magic of her manner, as she melted the 
obdurate, inspired the slothful, consoled the afflicted, 
and animated with her smiles and ready phrase, the 
energetic and the dutiful. Nor on these occasions 
was Lady Theresa seen under less favourable aus- 
pices. Without the vivacity of her sister, there was 
in her demeanour a sweet seriousness of purpose that 
was most winning ; and sometimes a burst of energy, 
a trait of decision, which strikingly contrasted with 
the somewhat over-controlled character of her life 
in drawing-rooms. 

In the society of these engaging companions, time 
for Coningsby glided away in a course which he 
sometimes wished nothing might disturb. Apart 
from them, he frequently felt himself pensive and 
vaguely disquieted. Even the society of Henr; 
Sydney, or Eustace Lyle, much as under ordinary 
circumstances they would have been adapted to hi'^: 
mood, did not compensate for the absence of th.ii 
indefinite, that novel, that strange, yet sweet excite 
ment, which he felt, he knew not exactly how or 
why, stealing over his senses. Sometimes the coun- 

i8o 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

tenance of Theresa Sydney flitted over his musing 
vision ; sometimes the merry voice of Lady Ever- 
ingham haunted his ear. But to be their companion 
in ride or ramble ; to avoid any arrangement which 
for many hours should deprive him of their presence; 
was every day with Coningsby a principal object. 

One day he had been out shooting rabbits with 
Lyle and Henry Sydney, and returned with them 
late to Beaumanoir to dinner. He had not enjoyed 
his sport, and he had not shot at all well. He had 
been dreamy, silent, had deeply felt the want of Lady 
Everingham's conversation, that was ever so poig- 
nant and so interestingly personal to himself; one 
of the secrets of her sway, though Coningsby 
was not then quite conscious of it. Talk to 
a man about himself, and he is generally cap- 
tivated. That is the real way to win him. The 
only difference between men and women in this 
respect is, that most women are vain, and 
some men are not. There are some men who 
have no self-love ; but if they have, female vanity 
is but a trifling and airy passion compared with the 
vast voracity of appetite which in the sterner sex can 

I swallow anything, and always crave for more. 

I When Coningsby entered the drawing-room, there 
seemed a somewhat unusual bustle in the room, but 

! as the twilight had descended, it was at first rather 

: difficult to distinguish who was present. He soon 
perceived that there were strangers. A gentleman 
of pleasing appearance was near a sofa on which the 

; Duchess and Lady Everingham were seated, and 
discoursing with some volubility. His phrases 
seemed to command attention ; his audience had an 
animated glance, eyes sparkling with intelligence and 
interest ; not a word was disregarded. Coningsby 

i8i 






CONINGSBY Book III 

did not advance as was his custom ; he had a sort of 
instinct, that the stranger was discoursing of matters 
of which he knew nothing. He turned to a table, 
he took up a book, which he began to read upside 
downwards. A hand was lightly placed on his 
shoulder. He looked round, it was another stranger; 
who said, however, in a tone of familiar friendli- 
ness : 

* How do you do, Coningsby .?' 

It was a young man about four and twenty 
years of age, very tall, very good looking. Old 
recollections, his intimate greeting, a strong family 
likeness helped Coningsby to conjecture correctly 
who was the person who addressed him. It was, 
indeed, the eldest son of the Duke, the Marquess 
of Beaumanoir, who had arrived at his father's unex- 
pectedly with his friend, Mr. Melton, on their way 
to the north. 

Mr. Melton was a gentleman of the highest 
fashion, and a very great favourite in society, 
was about thirty, good looking, with an air th^ 
commanded attention, and manners, though faciU 
sufficiently finished. He was very communicati^ 
though calm, and without being witty, had at hi 
service a turn of phrase, acquired by practice ai 
success, which was, or had always seemed to be, poij^ 
nant. The ladies seemed especially to be delightec 
at his arrival. He knew every thing of every body 
they cared about ; and Coningsby listened in silence 
to names which for the first time reached his ears, 
but which seemed to excite great interest. Mr. 
Melton frequently addressed his most lively observa- 
tions and his most sparkling anecdotes to Lady Ever- 
ingham, who evidently relished all that he said, 
and returned him in kind. 

183 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

Throughout the dinner Lady Everingham and 
Mr. Melton maintained what appeared a most enter- 
taining conversation, principally about things and 
persons which did not in any way interest our hero ; 
who, however, had the satisfaction of hearing Lady 
Everingham in the drawing-room say in a careless 
tone to the Duchess : 

' I am so glad, mamma, that Mr. Melton has 
come ; we wanted some amusement.' 

What a confession! What a revelation to Con- 
ingsby of his infinite insignificance! Coningsby 
entertained a great aversion for Mr. Melton, but 
felt his spirit unequal to the social contest. The 
genius of the untutored inexperienced youth quailed 
before that of the long practised, skillful, man of the 
world. What was the magic of this man.^^ What 
was the secret of this ease, that nothing could dis- 
turb and yet was not deficient in deference and good 
taste .f* And then his dress, it seemed fashioned by 
some unearthly artist ; yet it was impossible to 
detect the unobtrusive causes of the general effect 
that was irresistible. Coningsby's coat was made by 
Stultz ; almost every fellow in the sixth form had 
his coats made by Stultz ; yet Coningsby fancied 
that his own garment looked as if it had been fur- 
nished by some rustic slopseller. He began to 
wonder where Mr. Melton got his boots from, and 
glanced at his own, which though made in St. James' 
Street, seemed to him to have a cloddish air. 

Lady Everingham was determined that Mr. Mel- 
ton should see Beaumanoir to the greatest advan- 
tage. Mr. Melton had never been there before, 
except at Christmas with the house full of visitors 
and factitious gaiety. Now he was to see the coun- 
try. Accordingly there were long rides every day, 

183 



CONINGSBY Book III 

which Lady Everingham called expeditions, and 
which generally produced some slight incident which 
she styled an adventure. She was very kind to Con- 
ingsby, but had no time to indulge in the lengthened 
conversations which he had previously found so 
magical. Mr. Melton was always on the scene, the 
monopolising hero, it would seem, of every thought, 
and phrase, and plan. Coningsby began to think 
that Beaumanoir was not so delightful a place as he 
had imagined. He began to think that he had 
stayed there perhaps too long. He had received a 
letter from Mr. Rigby to inform him that he was 
expected at Coningsby Castle at the beginning of 
September, to meet Lord Monmouth who had 
returned to England, and for grave and special rea- 
sons was about to reside at his chief seat, which he 
had not visited for many years. Coningsby had 
intended to have remained at Beaumanoir until that 
time ; but suddenly it occurred to him, that the A| 
of Ruins was past, and that he ought to seize tl 
opportunity of visiting Manchester, which was 
the same county as the Castle of his grandfath( 
So difficult is it to speculate upon events! Muj 
as we may, we are the creatures of circumstance! 
and the unexpected arrival of a London dandy at the 
county seat of an English nobleman sent this repre- 
sentative of the New Generation, fresh from Eton, 
nursed in prejudices, yet with a mind predisposed to 
inquiry and prone to meditation, to a scene apt to 
stimulate both intellectual processes ; which de- 
manded investigation and induced thought — the 
I great Metropolis of Labour. 



184 



I 



BOOK IV 



CHAPTER I 



A GREAT city, whose image dwells in the memory of 
man, is the type of some great idea. Rome repre- 
sents Conquest ; Faith hovers over the towers of 
Jerusalem ; and Athens embodies the pre-eminent 
quality of the antique world — Art. 

In modern ages, Commerce has created London; 
while Manners, in the most comprehensive sense of 
the word, have long found a supreme capital in the 
airy and bright-minded city of the Seine. 

What Art was to the ancient world. Science is to 
the modern : the distinctive faculty. In the minds 
of men the useful has succeeded to the beautiful. 
Instead of the city of the Violet Crown, a Lanca- 
shire village has expanded into a mighty region of 
factories and warehouses. Yet rightly understood, 
Manchester is as great a human exploit as Athens. 

The inhabitants indeed are not as impressed with 
their idiosyncrasy as the countrymen of Pericles and 
Phidias. They do not fully comprehend the position 
which they occupy. It is the philosopher alone who 
can comprehend the inconceivable grandeur of Man- 
chester, and the immensity of its future. There are 
yet great truths to tell, if we had either the courage 
to announce or the temper to receive them. 

185 



CONINGSBY Book IV 



CHAPTER II 

A FEELING of melancholy, even of uneasiness, at- 
tends our first entrance into a great town, especially 
at night. Is it that the sense of all this vast exist- 
ence with which we have no connexion, where we 
are utterly unknown, oppresses us with our insigni- 
ficance? Is it that it is terrible to feel friendless 
where all have friends ? 

Yet reverse the picture. Behold a community 
where you are unknown, but where you will be 
known, perhaps honoured. A place where you have 
no friends, but where also you have no enemies. A 
spot that has hitherto been a blank in your thoughts, 
as you have been a cipher in its sensations, and yet a 
spot perhaps pregnant with your destiny! 

There is perhaps no act of memory so profoundly 
interesting as to recall the careless mood and moment 
in which we have entered a town, a house, a chamber, 
on the eve of an acquaintance or an event, that have 
given a colour and an impulse to our future life. 

What is this Fatality that men worship.^ Is it a 
Goddess ? 

Unquestionably it is a power that acts mainly by 
female agents. Women are the Priestesses of Pre^ 
destination. 

Man conceives Fortune, but Woman conducts it. 

It is the Spirit of Man that says, ' I will be great;' 
but it is the Sympathy of Woman that usually makes 
him so. 

It is not the comely and courteous hostess of the 
Adelphi Hotel, Manchester, that gave occasion to 
these remarks, though she may deserve them, and 
though she was most kind to our Coningsby as he 

i»6 



I 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

came in late at night very tired, and not in very good 
humour. 

He had travelled the whole day through the great 
district of labour, his mind excited by strange sights, 
and at length wearied by their multiplication. He 
had passed over the plains where iron and coal super- 
cede turf and corn, dingy as the entrance of Hades, 
and flaming with furnaces ; and now he was among 
Illumined factories with more windows than Italian 
palaces, and smoking chimneys taller than Egyptian 
'obelisks. Alone in the great metropolis of machin- 
ery itself, sitting down in a solitary coffee-room 
glaring with gas, with no appetite, a whirling head, 
and not a plan or purpose for the morrow. And 
why was he here.'^ Because a being, whose name 
even was unknown to him, had met him in a hedge 
ale-house during a thunder storm, and told him that 
the Age of Ruins was past. 

Remarkable instance of the influence of an in- 
dividual ; some evidence of the extreme suscepti- 
bility of our hero. 

Even his bed-room was lit by gas. Wonderful 
city! That however could be got rid of. He 
opened the window. The summer air was sweet, 
even in this land of smoke and toil. He feels a 
sensation such as in Lisbon or Lima precedes an 
earthquake. The house appears to quiver. It is a 
sympathetic afl^ection occasioned by a steam-engine 
in a neighbouring factory. 

Notwithstanding however all these novel inci- 
dents, Coningsby slept the deep sleep of youth and 
health, of a brain, which however occasionally per- 
plexed by thought, had never been harassed by 
anxiety. He rose early, freshened and in fine spirits. 
And by the time the deviled chicken and the but- 

187 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

tered toast, that mysterious and incomparable luxury, 
which only can be obtained at an inn, had disap- 
peared, he felt all the delightful excitement of travel. 

And now for action ! Not a letter had Coningsby, 
not an individual in that vast city was known to 
him. He went to consult his kind hostess, who 
smiled confidence. He was to mention her name at 
one place, his own at another. All would be right; 
she seemed to have reliance in the destiny of such a 
nice young man. 

He saw all; they were kind and hospitable to the 
young stranger, whose thought, and earnestness, and 
gentle manners, attracted them. One recommended 
him to another ; all tried to aid and to assist him. 
He entered chambers vaster than are told of in 
Arabian fable, and peopled with inhabitants more 
wondrous than Afrite or Peri. For there he beheld, 
in long continued ranks, those mysterious forms full 
of existence without life, that perform with facility 
and in an instant, what man can fulfil only with 
difficulty and in days. A machine is a slave that 
neither brings nor bears degradation : it is a being 
endowed with the greatest degree of energy and 
acting under the greatest degree of excitement, yet 
free at the same time from all passion and emotion. 
It is therefore not only a slave,, but a supernatural^ 
~sTave. And why should one say that the machine 
does not live.^ It breathes, for its breath forms the 
atmosphere of some towns. It moves with more 
regularity than man. And has it not a voice. Does 
not the spindle sing like a merry girl at her work 
and the steam engine roar in jolly chorus like a stron 
artizan handling his lusty tools, and gaining a fair 
day's wages for a fair day's toil ? 

Nor should the weaving-room be forgotten, where 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

a thousand or fifteen hundred girls may be observed 
in their coral necklaces working like Penelope in the 
day time ; some pretty, some pert, some graceful 
and jocund, some absorbed in their occupation ; a 
little serious some, few sad. And the cotton you 
have observed in its rude state, that you have seen the 
silent spinner change into thread, and the bustling 
weaver convert into cloth, you may now watch as in 
a moment it is tinted with beautiful colours, or 
printed with fanciful patterns. And yet the mystery 
of mysteries is to view machines making machines; 
a spectacle that fills the mind with curious, and even 
awful, speculation. 

From early morn to the late twilight, our Con- 
ingsby for several days devoted himself to the com- 
prehension of Manchester. It was to him a new 
world pregnant with new ideas, and suggestive of 
new trains of thought and feeling. In this unprece- 
dented partnership between capital and science, 
working on a spot which Nature had indicated as 
the fitting theatre of their exploits, he beheld a great 
source of the wealth of nations which had been 
reserved for these times, and he perceived that this 
wealth was rapidly developing classes whose power 
was very imperfectly recognised in the constitutional 
scheme, and whose duties in the social system 
seemed altogether omitted. Young as he was, the 
bent of his mind, and the inquisitive spirit of the 
times, had sufficiently prepared him, not indeed to 
grapple with these questions, but to be sensible of 
their existence, and to ponder. 

One evening, in the coffee-room of the hotel, 
having just finished his well-earned dinner, and relax- 
ing his mind for the moment in a fresh research into 
the Manchester Guide, an individual, who had also 

189 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

been dining in the same apartment, rose from his 
table, and after lolling over the empty fire-place, 
reading the framed announcements, looking at the 
directions of several letters waiting there for their 
owners; picking his teeth, he turned round to 
Coningsby and with an air of uneasy familiarity, 
said, 

* First visit to Manchester, sir?' 
' My first.' 

' Gentleman traveller, I presume ?' 

' I am a traveller,' said Coningsby. 

' Hem! — From the south.?' 

' From the south.' 

' And pray, sir, how did you find business as you 
came along. Brisk ? I dare say. And yet there is 
a something, a sort of a something ; didn't it strike 
you, sir, there was a something.? A deal of queer 
paper about, sir!' 

' I fear you are speaking on a subject of which I 
know nothing,' said Coningsby, smiling, ' I do not 
understand business at all ; though I am not sur- 
prised that being at Manchester you should suppose 
so.' 

' Ah ! not in business. Hem ! Professional .?' 
^ No,' said Coningsby, ' I am nothing.' 

* Ah ! an independent gent ; hem ! and a very 
pleasant thing, too. Pleased with Manchester, I 
dare say.?' continued the stranger. 

' And astonished,' said Coningsby, * I think in the 
whole course of my life I never saw so much to ad- 
mire.' 

* Seen all the lions, have no doubt .?' 

* I think I have seen everything,' said Coningsby, 
rather eager and with some pride. 

' Very well, very well,' exclaimed the stranger in 
190 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

a patronising tone. ' Seen Mr. Burley's weaving- 
room, I dare say.' 

' Oh! isn't it wonderful .f" said Coningsby. 

' A great many people,' said the stranger, with a 
rather supercilious smile. 

' But after all,' said Coningsby with animation, 

* it is the machinery without any interposition of 
manual power that overwhelms me. It haunts me 
in my dreams,' continued Coningsby. ' I see cities 
peopled with machines. Certainly Manchester is 
the most wonderful city of modern times ! ' 

The stranger stared a little at the enthusiasm of 
his companion, and then picked his teeth. 

' Of all the wonderful things here,' said Coningsby^ 

* what on the whole, sir, do you look upon as the 
most wonderful.?' 

' In the way of machinery .?' asked the stranger. 

' In the way of machinery.' 

' Why, in the way of machinery, you know,' said 
the stranger very quietly, * Manchester is a dead 
letter.' 

* A dead letter ! ' said Coningsby. 

' Dead and buried,' said the stranger, accompany- 
ing his words with that peculiar application of his 
thumb to his nose, that signifies so eloquently that 
all is up. 

* You astonish me!' said Coningsby. 

* It's a booked place though,' said the stranger, 
^and no mistake. We have all of us a very great 
respect for Manchester, of course ; look upon her as 
a sort of mother, and all that sort of thing. But 
she is behind the times, sir, and that won't do in this 
age. The long and the short of it is, Manchester is 
gone by.' 

' I thought her only fault might be she was too 
191 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

much in advance of the rest of the country,' said 
Coningsby very innocently. 

' If you want to see life,' said the stranger, ' go 
to Staley-bridge or Bolton. There's high pressure.' 

' But the population of Manchester is increasing,' 
said Coningsby. 

' Why, yes, not a doubt. You see we have all of 
us a great respect for the town. It is a sort of 
metropolis of this district, and there is a good deal 
of capital in the place. And it has some first-rate 
Institutions. There's the Manchester Bank. That's 
a noble institution, full of commercial enterprise ; 
understands the age, sir ; high-pressure to the back- 
bone. I came up to town to see the manager to-day. 
I am building a new mill now myself at Staley- 
Bridge, and mean to open it by January, and when 
I do, I'll give you leave to pay another visit to Mr. 
Burley's weaving-room with my compliments.' 

' I am very sorry,' said Coningsby, ' that I have only 
another day left ; but pray tell me, what would y 
recommend me most to see within a reasonable d 
tance of Manchester.'^' 

' My mill is not finished,' said the Strang 
musingly ; * and though there is still a great d^ 
worth seeing at Staley-Bridge, still you had bett 
wait to see my new mill. And Bolton, let me see 
Bolton — there is nothing at Bolton that can hold up 
its head for a moment against my new mill ; but 
then it is not finished. Well, well, let us see. 
What a pity this is not the ist of January, and then 
my new mill would be at work. I should like to 
see Mr. Burley's face, or even Mr. Ashworth's that 
day. And the Oxford Road Works, where they arc 
always making a little change, bit by bit reform, eh! 
not a very particular fine appetite 1 suspect for di 

192 



I 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

ner at the Oxford Road Works, the day they hear 
of my new mill being at work. But you want to 
see something tip-top. Well, there's Millbank ; 
that's regular slap-up — quite a sight, regular lion ; 
if I were you, I would see Millbank.' 

'Millbank!' said Coningsby; * what Millbank.?' 

' Millbank of Millbank, made the place, made it 
himself. About three miles from Bolton ; train to- 
morrow morning at 7-25, get a fly at the station, 
and you will be at Millbank by 8-40.' 

' Unfortunately I am engaged to-morrow morn- 
ing,' said Coningsby, ' and yet I am most anxious, 
particularly anxious, to see Millbank.' 

'Well, there's a late train,' said the stranger, 
^ 3-15 ; you will be there by 4-30.' 

' I think I could manage that,' said Coningsby. 

' Do,' said the stranger ; ' and if you ever find 
yourself at Staley-Bridge, I shall be very happy to 
be of service. I must be off now. My train goes 
at 9-15.' And he presented Coningsby with his 
card as he wished him good night. 

MR. G. O. A. HEAD, 

Staley Bridge. 

CHAPTER III 

In a green valley of Lancaster, contiguous to that 
district of factories on which we have already 
touched, a clear and powerful stream flows through 
a broad meadow land. Upon its margin, adorned, 
rather than shadowed, by some very old elm trees, 
tor they are too distant to serve except for ornament, 
rises a vast deep red brick pile which, though formal 
and monotonous in its general character, is not with- 
N 193 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

out a certain beauty of proportion and an artist-like 
finish in its occasional masonry. The front which is 
of great extent, and covered with many tiers of small 
windows, is flanked by two projecting wings in the 
same style, which form a large court, completed by 
a dwarf wall crowned with a light and rather elegant 
railing ; in the centre, the principal entrance, a lofty 
portal of bold and beautiful design, surmounted by 
a statue of Commerce. 

This building, not without a degree of dignity, 
is what is technically and not very felicitously called 
a mill; always translated by the French in their 
accounts of our manufacturing riots, ' moulin' ; and 
which was really the principal factory of Oswald 
Millbank, the father of that youth, whom we trust 
our readers have not quite forgotten. 

At some little distance, and rather withdrawn 
from the principal stream, were two other smaller 
structures of the same style. About a quarter of a 
mile further on, appeared a village of not inconsider- 
able size, and remarkable from the neatness and even 
picturesque character of its architecture, and the gay 
gardens that surrounded it. On a sunny knoll in 
the back ground rose a church in the best style of 
Christian architecture, and near it was a clerical 
residence and a school-house of similar design. The 
village too could boast of another public building; 
an Institute where there were a library and a lecture- 
room ; and a reading hall which any one might fre- 
quent at certain hours, and under reasonable regula- 
tions. 

On the other side of the principal factory, but 
more remote, about half-a-mile indeed up the valley, 
surrounded by beautiful meadows, and built on an 
agreeable and well-wooded elevation was the man- 

194 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

sion of the mill-owner ; apparently a commodious 
and not inconsiderable dwelling-house, built in what 
is called the villa-style, with a variety of gardens and 
conservatories. The atmosphere of this somewhat 
striking settlement was not disturbed and polluted 
by the dark vapour, which to the shame of Man- 
chester still infests that great town, for the river of 
the valley was a motive power which rendered the 
steam engine unnecessary, though doubtless had its 
presence been inevitable, Mr. Millbank, unlike the / 
inhabitants of Manchester, would have taken care to • 
consume his own smoke. 

The sun was declining when Coningsby arrived at 
Millbank, and the gratification which he experienced 
on first beholding it was not a little diminished, when 
on inquiring at the village, he was informed that the 
hour was past for seeing the works. Determined not 
to relinquish his purpose without a struggle, he 
repaired to the principal mill, and entered the count- 
ing-house, which was situated in one of the wings of 
the building. 

* Your pleasure, sir ?' said one of three individuals 
sitting on high stools behind a high desk. 

' I wish, if possible, to see the works.' 

' Quite impossible, sir,' and the clerk withdrawing 
his glance, continued his writing. ' No admission 
without an order, and no admission with an order 
after two o'clock.' 

' I am very unfortunate,' said Coningsby. 

'Sorry for it, sir. Give me ledger K. X., will 
you Mr. Benson .f*' 

^ * I think, Mr. Millbank would grant me permis- 
sion,' said Coningsby. 

'Very likely, sir; to-morrow. Mr. Millbank is 
there, sir, but very much engaged.' He pointed to 

195 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

an inner counting-house, and the glass doors per- 
mitted Coningsby to observe several individuals in 
close converse. 

' Perhaps his son, Mr. Oswald Millbank is here.'*' 
inquired Coningsby. 

' Mr. Oswald is in Belgium,' said the clerk. 

' Would you give a message to Mr. Millbank, 
and say a friend of his son's at Eton is here, and here 
only for a day, and wishes very much to see his 
works.'*' 

'Can't possibly disturb Mr. Millbank now, sir; 
but, if you like to sit down, you can wait and see 
him yourself.' 

Coningsby was content to sit down, though he 
grew very impatient at the end of a quarter of an 
hour. The ticking of the clock, the scratching of 
the pens of the three silent clerks, irritated him. At 
length voices were heard, doors opened, and a clerk 
said : ' Mr. Millbank is comiing, sir,' but nobody 
came ; voices becam.e hushed, doors were again 
shut ; again nothing was heard, save ticking of clock 
and scratching of pen. 

At length there was a general stir, and they all did 
come forth, Mr. Millbank among them, a well-pro- 
portioned, comely man, with a fair face inclining to 
ruddiness, a quick, glancing, hazel eye, the whitest 
teeth, and short, curly, chestnut hair, here and there 
slightly tinged with grey. It was a visage of energy 
and decision. 

He was about to pass through the counting-house 
with his companions with whom his affairs were not 
concluded, when he observed Coningsby, who had 
risen. 

* This gentleman wishes to see me?' he inquired 
of his clerk, who bowed assent. 

196 



.J 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

' I shall be at your service, sir, the moment I have 
finished with these gentlemen.' 

' The gentleman wishes to see the works, sir,' said 
the clerk. 

' He can see the works at proper times,' said Mr. 
Millbank, somewhat pettishly ; ' tell him the regula- 
tions,' and he was about to go. 

' I beg your pardon, sir,' said Coningsby, coming 
forward, and with an air of earnestness and grace. y ^^ 
that arrested the step of the manufacturer. ' I am ^^"^^t^Cv^ 
aware of the regulations, but I would beg to be per- , \i,*>^ 
mitted to infringe them.' c 

' It cannot be, sir,' said Mr. Millbank, moving. 

' I thought, sir, being here only for a day, and as 
a friend of your son — ' 

Mr. Millbank stopped and said : 

' Oh ! a friend of Oswald's, eh ? What, at Eton V 

' Yes, sir, at Eton ; and I had hoped perhaps to 
have found him here.' 

* I am very much engaged, sir, at this moment,' 
said Mr. Millbank ; ' I am sorry I cannot pay you 
any personal attention, but my clerk will show you 
everything. Mr. Benson, let this gentleman see 
everything,' and he withdrew. 

' Be pleased to write your name here, sir,' said 
Mr. Benson, opening a book, and our friend wrote 
his name and the date of his visit to Millbank. 

* Harry Coningsby, Sept. 2, 1836.' 

Coningsby beheld in this great factory the last and 
the most refined inventions of mechanical genius. 
I The building had been fitted up by a capitalist as 
anxious to raise a monument of the skill and power 
of his order, as to obtain a return for the great in- 
vestment. 

197 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

' It is the glory of Lancashire ! ' exclaimed the 
enthusiastic Mr. Benson. 

The clerk spoke freely of his master, whom he 
evidently idolized, and his great achievements, and , 
Coningsby encouraged him. He detailed to Con- 
ingsby the plans which Mr. Millbank had pursued 
both for the moral and physical well-being of his 
people ; how he had built churches, and schools, and 
institutes; houses and cottages on a new system of 
ventilation ; how he had allotted gardens ; estab- 
lished singing classes. 

' Here is Mr. Millbank,' continued the clerk, as 
he and Coningsby, quitting the factory, re-entered ^, 
the court. I 

Mr. Millbank was approaching the factory, and the 
moment that he observed them, he quickened his 
pace. 

' Mr. Coningsby.'^' he said when he reached them. 
His countenance was rather disturbed, and his voice 
a little trembled, and he looked on our friend with a 
glance scrutinizing and serious. Coningsby bowed. 

' I am sorry that you should have been received at 
this place with so little ceremony, sir,' said Mr. Mill- 
bank ; ' but had your name been mentioned, you 
would have found it cherished here.' He nodded 
to the clerk, who disappeared^\ ^^' 

Coningsby began to talk about the wonders of Ij 
the factory, but Mr. Millbank recurred to other 
thoughts that were passing in his mind. He spoke 
of his son ; he expressed a kind reproach that Con- 
ingsby should have thought of visiting this part of 
the world without giving them some notice of his 
intention, that he might have been their guest, that 
Oswald might have been there to receive him, that 
they might have made arrangements that he should 

1^3 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

see everything and in the best manner ; in short, that 
they might all have shown however slightly, the 
deep sense of their obligations to him. 

' My visit to Manchester, which led to this was 
quite accidental,' said Coningsby. ' I am bound for 
the other division of the county, to pay a visit to 
my grandfather. Lord Monmouth, but an irresistible 
desire came over me during my journey to view this 
famous district of industry. It is some days since I 
ought to have found myself at Coningsby, and this 
is the reason why I am so pressed.' 

A cloud passed over the countenance of Millbank 
as the name of Lord Monmouth was mentioned, 
but he said nothing. Turning towards Coningsby 
with an air of kindness : 

' At least,' said he, ' let not Oswald hear that you 
did not taste our salt. Pray dine with me to-day ; 
there is yet an hour to dinner ; and as you have 
seen the factory, suppose we stroll together through 
the village.' 

CHAPTER IV 

The village clock struck five as Mr. Millbank and 
his guest entered the gardens of his mansion. Con- 
ingsby lingered a moment to admire the beauty and 
gay profusion of the flowers. 

' Your situation,' said Coningsby, looking up the 
green and silent valley, ' is absolutely poetic' 

' I try sometimes to fancy,' said Mr. Millbank, 
with a rather fierce smile, ' that I am in the New 
World.' 

They entered the house ; a capacious and classical 
hall, at the end a staircase in the Italian fashion. As 
they approached it, the sweetest and the clearest 

199 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

voice exclaimed from above : ' Papa ! papa ! ' and 
instantly a young girl came bounding down the 
stairs, but suddenly seeing a stranger with her father 
she stopped upon the landing place and was evidently 
on the point of as rapidly retreating as she had 
advanced, when Mr. Millbank waved his hand to 
her and begged her to descend. She came down 
slowly : as she approached them her father said : * A 
friend you have often heard of Edith : this is Mr. 
Coningsby.' 

She started ; blushed very much ; and then, with 
a trembling and uncertain gait, advanced, put forth 
her hand with a wild unstudied grace, and said in a 
tone of sensibility : ' How often have we all wished 
to see and to thank you ! ' 

This daughter of his host was of tender years ; 
apparently she could scarcely have counted sixteen 
summers. She was delicate and fragile, but as she 
raised her still blushing visage to her father's guest, 
Coningsby felt that he had never beheld a counten- 
ance of such striking and such peculiar beauty. 

4 ^* My o-i^iy daughter,. Mr. Coningsby ; Edith ; a 
\jf^ .il Saxon name, for she is the daughter of a Saxon.' 
jA %\ ^^^ ^^ beauty of the countenance was not the 

Q beauty of the Saxons. It was a radiant face, one of 
those that seem as if touched in their cradle by a 
sunbeam, and to have retained all its brilliancy and 
suffused and mantling lustre. One marks some- 
times such faces, diaphanous with delicate splendour, 
in the southern regions of France. Her eye too 
was the rare eye of Acquitaine ; soft and long, with 
lashes drooping over the cheek, dark as her cluster- 
ing ringlets. 

They entered the drawing-room. 

' Mr. Coningsby,' said Millbank to his daughter, 



200 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 



* is in this part of the world only for a few hours, or 
I am sure he would become our guest. He has, 
however, promised to stay with us now and dine.' 

' If Miss Millbank will pardon this dress,' said 
Coningsby, bowing an apology for his inevitable 
frock and boots ; the maiden raised her eyes and bent 
her head. 

The hour of dinner was at hand. Millbank 
offered to show Coningsby to his dressing-room. 
He was absent but a few minutes. When he re- 
turned he found Miss Millbank alone. He came 
somewhat suddenly into the room. She was playing 
with her dog, but ceased the moment she observed 
Coningsby. 

Coningsby, who since his practice with Lady Ever- 
ingham, flattered himself that he had advanced in 
small talk, and was not sorry that he had now an 
opportunity of proving his prowess, made some lively 
observations about pets and the breeds of lap-dogs, 
but he was not fortunate in extracting a response 
or exciting a repartee. He began then on the beauty 
of Millbank, which he would on no account have 
avoided seeing, and inquired when she had last 
heard of her brother. The young lady, apparently 
much distressed, was murmuring something about 
Antwerp, when the entrance of her father relieved 
her from her embarrassment. 

Dinner being announced, Coningsby offered his 
arm to his fair companion, who took it with her eyes 
fixed on the ground. 

' You are very fond, I see, of flowers,' said Con- 
ingsby, as they moved along ; and the young lady 



said, ' Yes. 



The dinner was plain, but perfect of its kind. The 
young hostess seemed to perform her office with a 



CONINGSBY Book IV 



certain degree of desperate determination. She 
looked at a chicken and then at Coningsby, and 
murmured something which he understood. Some- 
times she informed herself of his tastes or necessities 
in more detail, by the medium of her father, whom 
she treated as a sort of dragoman ; in this way : 
' Would not Mr. Coningsby, papa, take this or that, 
or do so and so.f^' Coningsby always was careful to 
reply in a direct manner without the agency of the 
interpreter ; but he did not advance. Even a peti- 
tion for the great honour of taking a glass of sherry 
with her only induced the beautiful face to bow. 
And yet when she had first seen him, she had ad- 
dressed him even with emotion. What could it be.'' 
He felt less confidence in his increased power of con- 
versation. Why Theresa Sydney was scarcely a 
year older than Miss Millbank, and though she did 
not certainly originate like Lady Everingham, he 
got on with her perfectly well. 

Mr. Millbank did not seem to be conscious of his 
daughter's silence : at any rate, he attempted to 
compensate for it. He talked fluently and well ; on 
all subjects his opinions seemed to be decided, and 
his language was precise. He was really interested 
in what Coningsby had seen, and what he had felt ; 
and this sympathy divested his manner of the dis- 
agreeable effect that accompanies a tone inclined to! 
be dictatorial. More than once Coningsby observed 
the silent daughter listening with extreme attention 
to the conversation of himself and her father. 

The dessert was remarkable. Millbank was very 
proud of his fruit. A bland expression of self- 
complacency spread over his features as he surveyed 
his grapes, his peaches, his figs. 

* Those grapes have gained a medal,' he told Co?i 



202 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

ingsby. ' Those two are prize peaches. I have not 
yet been so successful with my figs. These however 
promise, and perhaps this year I may be more fortu- 
nate.' 

' What would your brother and myself have given 
for such a dessert at Eton!' said Coningsby to Miss 
Millbank, wishing to say something, and something 
too that might interest her. 

She seemed infinitely distressed, and yet this time 
would speak : 

* Let me give you some.' He caught by chance 
her glance immediately withdrawn ; yet it was a 

j glance not only of beauty, but of feeling and thought. 
I She added, in a hushed and hurried tone, dividing 
: very nervously some grapes : ' I hardly know 
I whether Oswald will be most pleased or grieved when 
j he hears that you have been here.' 
I ' And why grieved ?^ said Coningsby. 

' That he should not have been here to welcome 
' you, and that your stay is for so brief a time. It 
; seems so strange that after having talked of you for 
years, we should see you only for hours.' 

' I hope I may return,' said Coningsby, ' and that 
Millbank may be here to welcome me ; but I hope I 
j may be permitted to return even if he be not.' 
I But there was no reply ; and soon after Mr. Mill- 
bank talking of the American market, and Coningsby 
helping himself to a glass of claret, the daughter of 
the_Saxon, looking at her father, rose and left the 
room, so suddenly and so quickly that Coningsby 
could scarcely gain the door. 

* Yes,' said Millbank filling his glass, and pursu- 
ing some previous observations, * all that we want in 
this country is to be masters of our own industry ; 

but Saxon industry and Norman manners never will /?,/ 

203 



I 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

agree; and some day, Mr.Coningsby, you will find 
Jhat out.' ""^ 

' But what do you mean by Norman manners ?' 
inquired Coningsby. 

' Did you ever hear of the Forest of Rossen- 
dale?' said Millbank. 'If you were staying here, 
you should visit the district. It is an area of 
twenty-four square miles. It was disforested in the 
early part of the sixteenth century, possessing at 
that time eighty inhabitants. Its rental in James Ps 
time was ^i2o. When the woollen manufacture 
was introduced in the north, the shuttle competed 
with the plough in Rossendale, and about forty 
years ago, we sent them the Jenny. The eighty 
souls are now increased to upwards of eighty thou- 
sand, and the rental of the forest, by the last county 
assessment, amounts to more than ^50,000. 
41,000 per cent, on the value in the reign of James 
I. Now I call that an instance of Saxon industry 
competing successfully with Norman manners.' 

* Exactly,' said Cdriiiigsby, ' but those manners 
are gone.' 

' From Rossendale,' said Millbank, with a grim 
smile, * but not from England.' 
' Where do you meet them?' 

* Meet them! In every place, at every hour ; and 
feel them too in every transaction of life.' 

' I know, sir, from your son,' said Coningsby, in- 
quiringly, ' that you are opposed to an aristocracy.' 

* No, I am not. I am for an aristocracy ; but a 
real one, a natural one.' 

* But, sir, is not the aristocracy of England,' said 
Coningsby, «a real one.— -You do not confound our 
peerage for example with the degraded patricians of 
the continent.' 

204 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

'Hum!' said Millbank. *I do not understand 
how an aristocracy can exist, unless it be distin- 
guished by some quality which no other class of the 
community possesses. Distinction is the basis of 
aristocracy. If you permit only one class of the 
popuration, for example, to bear arms, they are an 
aristocracy ; not one much to my taste ; but still a 
great fact. That, however, is not the characteristic 
of the English peerage. I have yet to learn they are 
richer than we are, better informed, wiser, or more 
distinguished for public or private virtue. Is it not 
monstrous then that a small number of men, several 
of whom take the titles of Duke and Earl from 
towns in this very neighbourhood, towns which they 
never saw, which never heard of them, which they 
did not form, or build, or establish, I say is it not 
monstrous, that individuals so circumstanced should 
be invested with the highest of conceivable privileges 
— the privilege of making laws.^^ Dukes and Earls 
indeed ! I say there is nothing in a masquerade more 
ridiculous.' 

' But do you not argue from an exception, sir,' 
said Coningsby. ' The question is, whether a pre- 
ponderance of the aristocratic principle in a political 
constitution be, as I believe, conducive to the stability 
and permanent power of a state, and whether the 
peerage, as established in England, generally tends 
to that end. We must not forget in such an estimate 
the influence which, in this country, is exercised over 
opinion by ancient lineage.' 

'_Ancient Hneage I ' said Mr. Millbank; ' j^ never 
heard of a peer with an ancient lineage. The real 
old families of this country are to be found among 
the peasantry ; the gentry, too, may lay some claim 
to old blood. \ I can point you out Saxon families in 
" ^205 



XJLcr^ 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

this county who can trace their pedigrees beyond 
tEe'Conquest ; Tknow of some Norman gentlemen 
wHose fathers undoubtedly came over with the Con- 
queror. But a peer with an ancient lineage is to me 
quite a novelty. No, no ; the thirty years of the 
wars of the Roses freed us from those gentlemen. 
I take it after the Battle of Tewkesbury, a Norman 
baron was almost as rare a being in England as a wolf 
is now.' 

* I have always understood,' said Coningsby, ' that 
our peerage was the finest in Europe.' 

' From themselves,' said Millbank, ' and the 
heralds they pay to paint their carriages. But I go 
to facts. When Henry VII. called his first parlia- 
ment, there were only twenty-nine temporal peers 
to be found, and even some of them took their seats 
illegally, for they had been attainted. Of those 
twenty-nine not five remain, and they, as the 
Howards for instance, are not Norman nobility. 
We owe the English peerage to three sources : the 
spoliation of the church ; the open and flagrant 
sale of its honours by the elder Stuarts; and the 
boroughmongering of our own times. Those are 
the three main sources of the existing peerage of 
England, and in my opinion disgraceful ones. But 
I must apologize for my frankness in thus speaking 
to an aristocrat.' 

* Oh ! by no means, sir ; I like discussion. Your 
son and myself at Eton have had some encounters 
of this kind before. But if your view of the case 
be correct,' added Coningsby, smiling, * you cannot 
at any rate accuse our present peers of Norman man- 
ners.' 

* Yes I do. They adopted Norman manners 
while they usurped Norman titles. They have 

206 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

neither the right of the Normans, nor do they 
fulfil the duty of the Normans: they did not con- 
quer the land, and they do not defend it.' 

' And where will you find your natural aristo- 
cracy ?' asked Coningsby. 

' Among those men whom a nation recognizes as 
the most eminent for virtue, talents, and property, 
and if you please, birth and standing in the land. 
They guide opinion ; and therefore they govern. I^ ^^^ 
zm no leveller ; I look upon an artificial equality as jf^^*^^ 
equally pernicious with a factitious aristocracy ; both ^^^^. 
^pressing the energies, and checking the enterprise 
of a nation. I like m.an to be free ; really free ; 
fi-ee in his industry as well as his body. What is 
the use of Habeas Corpus, if a man may not use his 
hands when he is out of prison ?' 

' But it appears to me you have, in a great mea-^ ^4^e»<J^ 
sure, this natural aristocracy in England.' 

' Ah ! to be sure ! If we had not, where should 
we be } It is the counteracting power that saves us : 
the disturbing cause in the calculations of short- 
sighted selfishness. I say it now, and I have said it 
a hundred times, the House of Commons is a more 
aristocratic body than the House of Lords. The 
i fact is, a great peer would be a greater man now in 
the House of Commons than in the House of Lords. 
Nobody wants a second chamber, except a few dis- 
reputable individuals. It is a valuable institution 
for any member of it who has no distinction ; neither 
character, talents, nor estate. But a peer who pos- 
sesses all or any of these great qualifications, would 
find himself an immeasurably more important person- 
age in what, by way of jest, they call the Lower 
House.' 

' Is not the revising wisdom of a senate a salu- 
207 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

tary check on the precipitation of a popular assem- 
bly?' 

* Why should a popular assembly elected by the 
flower of a nation, be precipitate? If precipitate, 
what senate could stay an assembly so chosen ? No, 
no, no ; the thing has been tried over and over 
again ; the idea or restraining the powerful by the 
weak is an absurdity ; the question is settled. If we 
wanted a fresh illustration, we need only look to the 
present state of our own House of Lords. It origi- 
nates nothing ; it has, in fact, announced itself as a 
mere Court of Registration of the decrees of your 
House of Commons ; and if by any chance it ven- 
tures to alter some miserable detail in a clause of a 
bill that excites public interest, what a clatter through 
the country, at conservative banquets, got up by the 
rural attornies, about the power, authority, and in- 
dependence of the House of Lords ; nine times nine, 
and one cheer more! No, sir, you may make aristo- 
cracies by laws ; you can only maintain them by 
manners. The manners of England preserve it from 
its laws. And they have substituted for our formal 
aristocracy an essential aristocracy ; the government 
of those who are distinguished by their fellow- 
citizens.' 

* But then it would appear,' said Coningsby, * that 
the remedial action of our manners has removed all 
the political and social evils of which you complain ?' 

* They have created a power that may remove 
them ; a power that has the capacity to remove them. 
But in a very great measure they still exist ; and 
must exist yet, I fear, for a very long time. The! 
growth of our civilization has ever been as slow as 
our oaks; but this tardy development is preferable 
to the temporary expansion of the gourd.' 

208 



I 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

' The future seems to me sometimes a dark 
cloud.' 

' Not to me,' said Mr. Millbank. ' I am san- 
guine ; I am the Disciple of Progress. But I have 
cause for my faith. I have witnessed advance. My 
father has often told me that in his early days, the 
displeasure of a peer of England was like a sentence 
of death to a man. Why it w^as esteemed a great 
concession to public opinion, so late as the reign of 
George II, that Lord Ferrars should be executed for 
murder. The King of a new dynasty who wished 
to be popular with the people insisted on it, and even 
then he was hanged with a silken cord. At any rate 
we may defend ourselves now,' continued Mr. Mill- 
bank, ' and perhaps do something more. I defy 
any peer to crush me, though there is one who would 
be very glad to do it. No more of that ; I am very 
happy to see you at Millbank ; very happy to make 
your acquaintance,' he continued with some emo- 
tion, ' and not merely because you are my son's 
j friend and more than friend.' 

I The walls of the dining-room were covered with 
' pictures of great merit ; all of the modern English 
. school. Mr. Millbank understood no other, he was 
I wont to say, and he found that many of his friends 
,who did, bought a great many pleasing pictures that 
were copies, and many originals that were very dis- 
pleasing. He loved a fine free landscape by Lee, . 
that gave him the broad plains, the green lanes, and 
running streams of his own land ; a group of animals 
by Landseer as full of speech and sentiment as if 
they were designed by ^sop ; above all he delighted 
in the household humour and homely pathos of 
^^(ilkie. And if a higher tone of imagination 
pleased him, he could gratify it without difficulty 
o 209 



CONINGSBY Book IV 



among his favourite masters. He possessed some 
specimens of Etty worthy of Venice when it was 
alive; he could muse amid the twilight ruins of 
ancient cities raised by the magic pencil of Danby, 
or accompany a group of fair Neapolitans to a festival 
by the genial aid of Uwins. 

Opposite Coningsby was a portrait, which had 
greatly attracted his attention during the whole 
dinner. It represented a woman extremely young 
and of a rare beauty. The costume was of that 
classical character prevalent in this country before 
the general peace ; a blue ribbon bound together as 
a fillet her clustering chestnut curls. The face was 
looking out of the canvass, and Coningsby never 
raised his eyes without catching its glance of blended 
vivacity and tenderness. 

There are moments when our sensibility is affected 
by circumstances of a very trivial character. It 
seems a fantastic emotion, but the gaze of this pic- 
ture disturbed the serenity of Coningsby. He 
endeavoured sometimes to avoid looking at it, but 
it irresistibly attracted him. More than once dur- 
ing the dinner he longed to inquire whom it repre- 
sented ; but it is a delicate subject to ask questions 
about portraits, and he refrained. Still when he was 
rising to leave the room, the impulse was irresistible. 
He said to Mr. Millbank, ' By whom is that portrait, 
sir.?' 

The countenance of Millbank became disturbed; 
it was not an expression of tender reminiscence that 
fell upon his features. On the contrary, the expres- 
sion was agitated, almost angry. 

* Oh ! that is by a country artist,' he said, * of 
whom you never heard,' and moved away. 

They found Miss Millbank in the drawing-room. 



2IO 



I 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

She was sitting at a round table covered with work- 
ing materials, apparently dressing a doll. 

' Nay,' thought Coningsby, ' she must be too old 
for that!' 

He addressed her and seated himself by her side. 
There were several dolls on the table, but he dis- 
covered, on examination, that they were pincushions ; 
and elicited with some difficulty, that they were 
making for a fancy fair about to be held in aid of 
that excellent Institution, the Manchester Athen- 
aeum. Then the father came up and said : 

' My child, let us have some tea,' and she rose, 
and seated herself at the tea-table. Coningsby also 
quitted his seat, and surveyed the apartment, 
i There were several musical instruments ; among 
lothers he observed a guitar ; not such an instru- 
ment as one buys in a music-shop, but such an one 
ias tinkles at Seville ; a genuine Spanish guitar. 
Coningsby repaired to the tea-table. 

' I am glad that you are fond of music. Miss Mill- 
,bank .?' ^ 

A blush and a bow. 

' I hope after tea you will be so kind as to touch 
;the guitar.' 

Signals of great distress. 

* Were you ever at Birmingham ?^ 
J * Yes ! ' a sigh. 

!| *What a splendid music hall! They should 
'Duild one at Manchester.' 

' They ought,' in a whisper. 

The tea-tray was removed ; Coningsby was con- 
versing with Mr. Millbank, who was asking him 
juestions about his son ; what he thought of Oxford ; 
vhat he thought of Oriel ; should himself have pre- 
erred Cambridge ; but had consulted a friend, an 



I 



211 



^^ 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

Oriel man, who had a great opinion of Oriel; and 

Oswald's name had been entered some years back. 
He rather regretted it now ; but the thing was done. 
Coningsby, remembering the promise of the guitar, 
turned round to claim its fulfilment, but the singer 
had made her escape. Time elapsed, and no Miss 
Millbank re-appeared. Coningsby looked at his 
watch ; he had to go three miles to the train, which 
started, as his friend of the previous night would 
phrase it, at 9-45. 

^ I should be happy if you remained with us,' said 
Mr. Millbank ; * but as you say it is out of your 
power, in this age of punctual travelling, a host is 
bound to speed the parting guest. The carriage is 
ready for you.' 

' Farewell then, sir. You must make my adieux 
to Miss Millbank, and accept my thanks for your 
great kindness.' 

* Farewell, Mr. Coningsby,' said his host, taking 
his hand, which he retained for a moment as if he 
would say more. Then leaving it, he repeated with 
a somewhat wandering air, and in a voice of emotion, 
' Farewell — farewell, Mr. Coningsby.' 



CHAPTER V 

Towards the end of the session of 1836, the hopes 
of the Conservative party were again in the ascen- 
dant. The Tadpoles and the Tapers had infused 
such enthusiasm into all the country attorneys, who, 
in their turn, had so bedevilled the registration, that 
it was whispered in the utmost confidence, but as a 
flagrant truth, that Re-action was at length * a great 
fact.' All that was required was the opportunity; 
but as the existing Parliament was not two years old, 

212 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

and the government had an excellent working major- 
ity, it seemed that the occasion could scarcely be 
furnished. Under these circumstances, the back- 
stairs politicians, not content with having by their 
premature movements already seriously damaged 
the career of their leader, to whom in public they 
pretended to be devoted, began weaving again their 
old intrigues about the court, and not v/ithout effect. 
It was said that the royal ear lent itself with no 
marked repugnance to suggestions, which might rid 
the Sovereign of ministers, who, after all, were the 
ministers not of his choice, but of his necessity. 
But William IV. after two failures ot a similar at- 
tempt, after his respective embarrassing interviews 
with Lord Grey and Lord Melbourne, on their return 
to office in 1832 and 1835, ^^^ resolved never to 
Imake another move unless it were a checkmate. 
'The King therefore listened and smiled, and loved 
to talk to his favourites of his private feelings and 
secret hopes ; the first outraged, the second cherished ; 
md a little of these revelations of royalty was dis- 
tilled to great personages who, in their turn spoke 
hypothetically to their hangers-on of royal disposi- 
tions and possible contingencies, while the hangers- 
m and go-betweens, in their turn, looked more than 
.:hey expressed ; took county members by the button 
i nto a corner, and advised, as friends, the representa- 
ives of boroughs to look sharply after the next regis- 
ration. 

Lord Monmouth, who was never greater than in 
idversity, and whose favourite excitement was to aim 
It the impossible, had never been more resolved on 
I Dukedom, than when the Reform Act deprived 
lim of the twelve votes, which he had accumulated 
o attain that object. While all his companions in 

213 



CONINGSBY 



Book IV 



f 



A i" 



\ 



discomfiture were bewailing their irretrievable over- 
throw, Lord Monmouth became almost a convert to 
the measure, which had furnished his devising and 
daring mind, pallid with prosperity, and satiated 
with a life of success, with an object, and the stimu- 
lating enjoyment of a difficulty. 

He had early resolved to appropriate to himself a 
division of the county in which his chief seat was 
situate ; but what most interested him, because it 
was most difficult, was the acquisition of one of the 
new boroughs that was in his vicinity, and in which 
he possessed considerable property. The borough 
however was a manufacturing town, and returning 
only one member, it had hitherto sent up to West- 
minster a radical shopkeeper, one Mr. Jawster Sharp, 
who had taken what is called ' a leading part ' in the 
town on every ' crisis ' that had occurred since 1830 ; 
one of those zealous patriots who had got up penny 
subscriptions for gold cups to Lord Grey ; cries for 
the bill, the whole bill, and nothing but the bill ; and 
public dinners where the victual was devoured be- 
fore grace was said ; a worthy who makes speeches, 
passe? resolutions, votes addresses, goes up with 
deputations, has at all times the necessary quantity 
of confidence in the necessary individual ; confidence 
in Lord Grey ; confidence in Lord Durham ; con- 
fidence in Lord Melbourne ; and can also, if neces- 
sary, give three cheers for the King or three groans 
for the Queen. 

But the days of the genus Jawster Sharp were 
over in this borough as well as in many others. He 
had contrived in his lustre of agitation to feather his 
nest pretty successfully ; by which he had lost pubhc 
confidence and gained his private end. Three hun- 
gry Jawster Sharps, his hopeful sons, had all become 

214 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

commissioners of one thing or another ; temporary- 
appointments with interminable duties ; a low-church 
son-in-law found himself comfortably seated in a 
chancellor's living ; and several cousins and nephews 
were busy in the Excise. But Jawster Sharp him- 
self was as pure as Cato. He had always said he 
would never touch the public money, and he had 
kept his word. It was an understood thing that 
Jawster Sharp was never to show his face again on 
the hustings of Darlford ; the Liberal party was 
determined to be represented in future by a man of 
station, substance, character, a true Reformer, but 
one who wanted nothing for himself, and therefore 
might if needful get something for them. They 
were looking out for such a man, but were in no 
hurry. The seat was looked upon as a good thing ; 
a contest certainly, every place is contested now, but 
as certainly a large majority. Notwithstanding all 
this confidence however. Re-action or Registration, 
or some other mystification had produced effects 
even in this creature of the Reform Bill, the good 
Borough of Darlford. The borough that out of 
gratitude to Lord Grey returned a jobbing shop-.- 
keeper twice to Parliament as its representative with- 
out a contest, had now a Conservative Association, 
with a banker for its chairman, and a brewer for its 
vice-president, and four sharp lawyers knibbing their 
pens, noting their memorandum books, and assuring 
their neighbours with a consoling and complacent 
air, that ' Property must tell in the long run.' Whis- 
pers also were about that when the proper time 
arrived, a Conservative candidate would certainly 
have the honour of addressing the electors. No 
name mentioned, but it was not concealed that he 
was to be of no ordinary calibre ; a tried man, a 

215 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

distinguished individual, who had already fought the 
battle of the constitution, and served his country in 
eminent posts ; honoured by the nation, favoured by 
his sovereign. These important and encouraging 
intimations were ably diffused in the columns of the 
Conservative journal, and in a style which from its 
high tone evidently indicated no ordinary source and 
no common pen. Indeed there appeared occasionally 
in this paper articles written with such unusual vig- 
our, that the proprietors of the Liberal journal 
almost felt the necessity of getting some eminent 
hand down from town to compete with them. It 
was impossible that they could emanate from the 
rival Editor. They knew^^well the length of their 
brother's tether. Had they been more versant in 
the periodical literature of the day, they might in 
this ' slashing ' style have caught perhaps a glimpse 
of the future candidate for their borough, the Right 
Honourable Nicholas Rigby. 

Lord Monmouth, though he had been absent from 
England since 1832, had obtained from his vigilant 
correspondent a current knowledge of all that had 
occurred in the interval. All the hopes, fears, plans, 
prospects, mancruvres, and machinations ; their rise 
and fall ; how some had bloomed, others were 
blighted ; not a shade of re-action that was not 
represented to him ; not the possibility of an adhe- 
sion that was not duly reported ; he could calculate 
at Naples at any time within ten, the result of a 
dissolution. The season of the year had prevented 
him crossing the Alps in 1834, and after the general 
election he was too shrewd a practiser in the political 
world to be deceived as to the ultimate result. 
Lord Eskdalcj in whose judgment he had more con- 
fidence than in that of any individual, had told him 

216 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

from the first jhat the pear was not ripe ; Rigby, who 
always hedged against his interest by the fulfilment 
of his prophecy of irremediable discomfiture, was 
never very sanguine. Indeed the whole affair was 
always considered premature by the good judges ; 
and a long time elapsed before Tadpole and Taper 
recovered their secret influence, or re-assumed their 
ostentatious loquacity or their silent insolence. 

The jear however. np3v, was ripe. Even Lord 
Eskdale wrote that after the forthcoming registra- 
tion a bet was safe, and Lord Monmouth had the 
satisfaction of drawing the Whig Minister at Naples 
into a cool thousand on the event. Soon after this he 
returned to England, and determined to pay a visit 
to Coningsby Castle, feast the county, patronise the 
borough, diffuse that confidence in the party which 
his presence never failed to do ; so great and so just 
was the reliance in his unerring powers of calcula- 
tion, and his intrepid pluck. Notwithstanding 
Schedule A, the prestige of his power had not sen- 
sibly diminished, for his essential resources were vast, 
and his intellect always made the most of his influ- 
ence. 

True however to his organization Lord Mon- 
mouth, even to save his party and gain his dukedom, 
must not be bored. He therefore filled his castle 
with the most agreeable people from London, and 
even secured for their diversion a little troop of 
French comedians. Thus supported he received his 
neighbours with all the splendour befitting his 
immense wealth and great position, and with one 
charm which even immense wealth and great posi- 
tion cannot command, the most perfect manner in 
the world. Indeed Lord Monmouth was one of the 
most finished gentleman that ever lived, and as he was 

217 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

extremely good-natured, and for a selfish man even 
good-humoured, there was rarely a cloud of caprice 
or ill-temper to prevent his fine manners having 
their fair play. The country neighbours were all 
fascinated ; they were received with so much dignity 
and dismissed with so much grace. Nobody would 
believe a word of the stories against him. Had he 
lived all his life at Coningsby, fulfilled every duty of 
a great English nobleman, benefited the county, 
loaded the inhabitants with favours, he would not 
have been half so popular as he found himself within 
a fortnight of his arrival with the worst county repu- 
tation conceivable, and every little squire vowing 
that he would not even leave his name at the castle 
to show his respect. 

Lord Monmouth whose contempt for mankind 
was absolute ; not a fluctuating sentiment, not a 
mournful conviction ebbing and flowing with cir- 
cumstances, but a fixed, profound, unalterable in- 
stinct ; who never loved any one, and never hated 
any one except his own children ; was diverted by 
his popularity, but he was also gratified by it. At 
this moment it was a great element of power ; he 
was proud that with a vicious character, after having 
treated these people with unprecedented neglect and 
contumely, he should have won back their golden 
opinions in a moment by the magic of manner and 
the splendour of wealth. His experience proved 
the soundness of his philosophy. 

Lord Monmouth worshipped gold, though, if 
necessary, he could squander it like a caliph. He 
had even a respect for very rich men ; it was his only 
weakness, the only exception to his general scorn for 
his species. Wit, power, particular friendships, 
general popularity, public opinion, beauty, genius, 

218 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

virtue, all these are to be purchased ; but it does not 
follow that you can buy a rich man ; you may not 
be able or willing to spare enough. A person or a 
thing that you perhaps could not buy, became in- 
vested in the eyes of Lord Monmouth with a kind 
of halo amounting almost to sanctity. 

As the prey rose to the bait. Lord Monmouth 
resolved they should be gorged. His banquets were 
doubled ; a ball was announced ; a public day fixed ; 
not only the county but the principal inhabitants of 
the neighbouring borough were encouraged to at- 
tend ; Lord Monmouth wished it, if possible, to be 
without distinction of party. He had come to reside 
among his old friends, to live and die where he was 
born. The Chairman of the Conservative Associa- 
tion and the Vice-President exchanged glances, which 
would have become Tadpole and Taper ; the four 
attorneys knibbed their pens with increased energy, 
and vowed that nothing could withstand the influ- 
ence of the aristocracy ' in the long run.' All went 
and dined at the castle ; all returned home over- 
powered by the condescension of the host, the beauty 
of the ladies, several real Princesses, the splendour of 
his liveries, the variety of his viands, and the flavour 
of his wines. It was agreed that at future meetings 
of the Conservative Association, they should always 
give ' Lord Monmouth and the House of Lords ! ' 
— superseding the Duke of Wellington, who was to 
figure in an after toast with the Battle of Waterloo. 

It was not without emotion that Coningsby beheld 
for the first time the castle that bore his name. It 
was visible for several miles before he even entered 
the park, so proud and prominent was its position, 
on the richly wooded steep of a considerable emin- 
ence. It was a castellated building, immense and 

219 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

magnificent, in a very faulty and incongruous style 
of architecture indeed, but compensating in some 
degree for these deficiencies of external taste and 
beauty by the splendour and accommodation of its 
interior, and which a Gothic castle raised according 
to the strict rules of art could scarcely have afforded. 
The declining sun threw over the pile a rich colour 
as Coningsby approached it, and lit up with fleeting 
and fanciful tints the delicate foliage of the rare 
shrubs and tall thin trees that clothed the acclivity 
on which it stood. Our young friend felt a little 
embarrassed when, without a servant and in a hack 
chaise, he drew up to the grand portal, and a crowd 
of retainers came forth to receive him. A superior 
servant inquired his name with a stately composure, 
that disdained to be supercilious. It was not with- 
out some degree of pride and satisfaction that the 
guest replied, * Mr. Coningsby.' The instantaneous 
effect was magical. It seemed to Coningsby that he 
was borne on the shoulders of the people to his 
apartment ; each tried to carry some part of his 
luggage ; and he only hoped his welcome from their 
superiors might be as hearty. 



CHAPTER VI 

It seemed to Coningsby on his way to his room, that 
the castle was in a state of great excitement ; every- 
where bustle, preparation, moving to and fro, ascend- 
ing and descending of stairs, servants in every 
corner ; orders boundlessly given, rapidly obeyed ; 
many desires, equal gratification. All this made 
him rather nervous. It was quite unlike Beau- 
manoir. That also was a palace, but it was a home. 

220 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

This, though it should be one to him, seemed to 
have nothing of that character. Of all mysteries 
the social mysteries are the most appalling. Going 
to an assembly for the first time is more alarming 
than the first battle. Coningsby had never before 
been in a great house full of company. It seemed 
an overwhelming affair. The sight of the servants 
bewildered him ; how then was he to encounter 
their masters .^^ 

That however he must do in a moment. A 
groom of the chambers indicates the way to him, as 
he proceeds with a hesitating yet hurried step 
through several ante-chambers and drawing-rooms ; 
then doors are suddenly thrown open, and he is 
ushered into the largest and most sumptuous saloon 
that he had ever entered. It was full of ladies and 
gentlemen. Coningsby for the first time in his life 
was at a great party. His immediate emotion was to 
sink into the earth, but perceiving that no one even 
noticed him, and that not an eye had been attracted 
to his entrance, he regained his breath and in some 
degree his composure, and standing aside, endea- 
voured to make himself as well as he could master of 
the land. 

Not a human being that he had ever seen before! 
The circumstance of not being noticed which a few 
minutes since he had felt as a relief, became now a 
cause of annoyance. It seemed that he was the only 
person standing alone whom no one was addressing. 
He felt renewed and aggravated embarrassment, 
and fancied, perhaps was conscious, that he was 
blushing. At length his ear caught the voice of Mr. 
Rigby. The speaker was not visible ; he was at a 
distance surrounded by a wondering group whom 
he was severally and collectively contradicting, but 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

Coningsby could not mistake the harsh, high tones 
of that arrogant voice. He was not sorry indeed 
that Mr. Rigby did not observe him. Coningsby 
never loved him particularly, which was rather un- 
grateful, for he was a person who had been kind, 
and on the whole, serviceable to him, but Coningsby 
writhed, and especially as he grew older, under Mr. 
Rigby's patronising air and paternal tone. Even in 
old days though attentive, Coningsby had never 
found him affectionate. Mr. Rigby would tell him 
what to do and see, but never asked him what he 
wished to do and see. It seemed to Coningsby that 
it was always contrived that he should appear the 
' protege ' or poor relation, of a dependent of his 
family. These feelings, which the thought of Mr. 
Rigby had revived, caused our young friend, by an 
inevitable association of ideas, to remember that, 
unknown and un-noticed as he might be, he was the 
only Coningsby in that proud Castle, except the 
Lord of the castle himself ; and he began to be 
rather ashamed of permitting a sense of his inex- 
perience in the mere forms and fashions of society 
so to oppress him, and deprive him as it were of the 
spirit and carriage which became alike his character 
and his position. Emboldened and greatly restored 
to himself, Coningsby advanced into the body of 
the saloon. 

On his legs, wearing his blue riband and bending 
his head frequently to a lady who was seated on a 
sofa and continually addressing him, Coningsby 
recognised his grandfather. Lord Monmouth was 
somewhat balder than four years ago, when he had 
perhaps ; but otherwise unchanged. Lord Mon- 
come down to Montem, and a little more portly 
mouth never condescended to the artifices of the 

222 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

toilet, and indeed notwithstanding his life of excess 
had little need of them. Nature had done much 
for him, and the slow progress of decay was carried 
off by his consummate bearing. He looked indeed 
the chieftain of a house of whom a cadet might be 
proud. 

For Coningsby, not only the chief of his house, 
but his host too. In either capacity he ought to 
address Lord Monmouth. To sit down to dinner 
without having previously paid his respects to his 
grandfather, to whom he was so much indebted, and 
whom he had not seen for so many years, struck him 
not only as uncourtly, but as unkind and ungrateful, 
and indeed in the highest degree absurd. But how 
was he to do it.^ Lord Monmouth seemed very 
deeply engaged, and apparently with some very 
great lady. And if Coningsby advanced and bowed, 
in all probability he would only get a bow in return. 
He remembered the bow of his first interview. It 
had made a lasting impression on his mind. For it 
was more than likely Lord Monmouth would not 
recognise him. Four years had not very sensibly 
altered Lord Monmouth, but four years had changed 
Harry Coningsby from a schoolboy into a man. 
Then how was he to make himself known to his 
grandfather.? To announce himself as Coningsby, 
as his Lordship's grandson, seemed somewhat ridi- 
culous. To address his grandfather as Lord Mon- 
mouth would serve no purpose ; to style Lord Mon- 
mouth ' grandfather,' would make every one laugh 
and seemed stiff and unnatural. What was he to 
do ? To fall into an attitude, and exclaim, * Behold 
your grandchild ?^ or * Have you forgot your 
Harry.?' 

Even to catch Lord Monmouth's glance was not 
223 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

a very easy affair ; he was much engaged on one 
side by the great lady ; on the other were several 
gentlemen who occasionally joined in the conversa- 
tion. But something must be done. 

There ran through Coningsby's character, as we 
have before mentioned, a vein of simplicity which 
was not its least charm. It resulted no doubt in a 
great degree from the earnestness of his nature. 
There never was a boy so totally devoid of affectation, 
which was remarkable, for he had a brilliant imagina- 
tion, a quality that from its fantasies and the vague 
and indefinite desires it engenders, generally makes 
those whose characters are not formed, very affected. 
The Duchess who was a fine judge of character, and 
who greatly regarded Coningsby, often mentioned 
this trait as one which, combined with his great 
abilities and acquirements so unusual at his age, 
rendered him so very interesting. In the present 
instance it so happened, that while Coningsby was 
watching his grandfather, he observed a crentleman 
advance, make his bow, say and receive a few words, 
and retire. This little incident however made a 
momentary diversion in the immediate circle of 
Lord Monmouth, and before they could all resume 
their former talk and fall into their previous posi- 
tions, an impulse sent forth Coningsby, who walked 
up to Lord Monmouth, and standing before him, 
said : 

* How do you do, grandpapa ?' 

Lord Monmouth beheld his grandson. His com- 
prehensive and penetrating glance took in every 
point with a flash. There stood before him one of 
the handsomest youths he had ever seen, with a mien 
as graceful as his countenance was captivating ; and 
his whole air breathing that freshness and ingenu- 

334 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

ousness which none so much appreciates as the used 
man of the world. And this was his child ; the 
only one of his blood to whom he had been kind. 
It would be exaggeration to say that Lord Mon- 
m.outh's heart was touched ; but his good-nature 
effervesced, and his fine taste was deeply gratified. 
He perceived in an instant such a relation might be 
a valuable adherent ; an irresistible candidate for 
future elections ; a brilliant tool to work out the 
Dukedom. All these impressions and ideas, and 
many more, passed througjh the quick brain of Lord 
Monmouth ere the sound of Coningsby's words had 
seemed to cease, and long before the surrounding 
guests had recovered from the surprise which they 
had occasioned them ; and which did not diminish 
when Lord Monmouth advancing placed his arms 
round Coningsby with a dignity of affection that 
would have become Louis XIV, and then in the 
high manner of the old Court kissed him on each 
i cheek. 

; * Welcome to your home,' said Lord Monmouth. 
] * You have grown a great deal.' 
I Then Lord Monmouth led the agitated Con- 
j: ingsby to the great Lady who was a Princess and an 
i Ambassadress, and then placing his arm gracefully 
I \ in that of his grandson he led him across the room, 
I' and presented him in due form to some royal blood 
* that was his guest in the shape of a Russian Arch- 
duke. His Imperial Highness received our hero as 
graciously as the grandson of Lord Monmouth 
might expect ; but no greeting can be imagined 
warmer than the one he received from the lady 
with whom the Archduke was conversing. She was 
a dame whose beauty was mature, but still radiant. 
Her figure was superb ; her dark hair crowned with 
p 225 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

a tiara of curious workmanship. Her rounded arm 
was covered with costly bracelets, but not a jewel 
on her finely-formed bust, and the least possible 
rouge on her still oval cheek. Madame Colonna 
retained her charms. 

The party though so considerable principally con- 
sisted of the guests at the Castle. The suite of the 
Archduke included several Counts and Generals ; 
then there was the Russian Ambassador and his 
lady ; and a Russian Prince and Princess, their rela- 
tions. The Prince and Princess Colonna and the 
Princess Lucretia were also paying a visit to the 
Marquess ; and the frequency of these visits made 
some strait-laced magnificoes mysteriously declare 
it was impossible to go to Coningsby ; but as they 
were not asked it did not much signify. The Mar- 
quess knew a great many very agreeable people of 
the highest ton, who took a more liberal view of 
human conduct, and always made it a rule to pre- 
sume the best motives instead of imputing the 
worst. There was Lady St. Julians for example, 
whose position was of the highest ; no one more 
sought ; she made it a rule to go everywhere and 
visit everybody, provided they had power, wealth, 
and fashion. She knew no crime except a woman 
not living with her husband ; that was past pardon. 
As long as his presence sanctioned her conduct, how- 
ever shameless, it did not signify ; but if the hus- 
band were a brute, neglected his wife first, and then 
deserted her ; then, if a breath but suHies her name 
she must be crushed ; unless indeed her own family 
were very powerfial, which makes a difference, and 
sometimes softens immorality into indiscretion. 

Lord and Lady Gaverstock were also there, whc 
never said an unkind thing of anybody ; her lady- 

226 



Chapter VI CONINOSBY 

ship was pure as snow ; but her mother having been 
divorced, she ever fancied she was paying a kind of 
homage to her parent by visiting those who might 
be some day in the same predicament. There were 
other lords and ladies of high degree ; and some 
who, though neither lords nor ladies, were charm- 
ing people, which Lord Monmouth chiefly cared 
about ; troops of fine gentlemen who came and 
went ; and some who were neither fine, nor gentle- 
men, but who were very amusing or very obliging 
as circumstances required, and made life easy and 
pleasant to others and themselves. 

A new scene this for Coningsby, who watched 
with interest all that passed before him. The dinner 
was announced as served ; an affectionate arm 
guides him at a moment of some perplexity. 

' When did you arrive, Harry ? We will sit to- 
gether. How is the Duchess.?' inquired Mr. 
Rigby, who spoke as if he had seen Coningsby for 
the first time ; but who indeed had, with that eye 
which nothing could escape, observed his reception 
by his grandfather, marked it well, and inwardly 
digested it. 

CHAPTER VII 

There was to be a first appearance on the stage of 
Lord Monmouth's theatre to-night, the expecta- 
tion of which created considerable interest in the 
party, and was one of the principal subjects of con- 
versation at dinner. Villebecque, the manager of 
the troop, had married the actress Stella, once cele- 
brated for her genius and her beauty ; a woman who 
had none of the vices of her craft, for, though she 
was a fallen angel, there were what her countrymen 
style extenuating circumstances in her declension. 

227 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

With the whole world at her feet, she had remained 
unsullied. Wealth and its enjoyments could not 
tempt her, although she was unable to refuse her 
heart to one whom she deemed worthy of possessing 
it. She found her fate in an Englishman, who was 
the father of her only child, a daughter. She 
thought she had met in him a hero, a demi-god, a 
being of deep passion and original and creative 
mind ; but he was only a voluptuary, full of violence 
instead of feeling, and eccentric because he had 
great means with which he could gratify extravagant 
whims. Stella found she had made the great and 
irretrievable mistake. She had exchanged devotion 
for a passionate and evanescent fancy, prompted at 
first by vanity, and daily dissipating under the in- 
fluence of custom and new objects. Though not 
stainless in conduct, Stella was pure in spirit. She 
required that devotion which she had yielded ; and 
she separated herself from the being to whom she 
had made the most precious sacrifice. He offered 
her the consoling compensation of a settlement 
which she refused ; and she returned with a broken 
spirit to that profession of which she was still the 
ornament and the pride. 

The animating principle of her career was her 
daughter, whom she educated with a solicitude 
which the most virtuous mother could not surpass. 
To preserve her from the stage, and to secure for 
her an independence, were the objects of the 
mother's life ; but nature whispered to her, that the 
days of that life were already numbered. The 
exertions of her profession had alarmingly developed 
an inherent tendency to pulmonary disease. Anxi- 
ous that her child should not be left without some 
protector, Stella yielded to the repeated solicitations 

228 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

of one who from the first had been her silent ad- 
mirer, and she married Villebecque, a clever actor, 
and an enterprising man who meant to be something 
more. Their union was not of long duration, 
though it was happy on the side of Villebecque, and 
serene on that of his wife. Stella was recalled from 
this world, where she had known much triumph 
and more suffering; and where she had exercised 
many virtues, which elsewhere, though not here, 
may perhaps be accepted as some palliation of one 
<:i:reat error. 

Villebecque acted becomingly to the young charge 
which Stella had bequeathed to him. He was him- 
self, as we have intimated, a man of enterprise, a 
restless spirit, not content to move for ever in the 
sphere in which he was born. Vicissitudes are the 
lot of such aspirants. Villebecque became manager 
of a small theatre, and made money. If Villebecque 
without a 'sous,' had been a schemer, Villebecque 
with a small capital was the very Chevalier Law of 
theatrical managers. He took a larger theatre and 
even that succeeded. Soon he was recognised as 
the lessee of more than one, and still he prospered. 
Villebecque began to dabble in Opera houses. He 
enthroned himself at Paris ; his envoys were heard 
at Milan and Naples, at Berlin and St. Petersburg. 
His controversies with the * Conservatoire ' at 
Paris, ranked among state papers. Villebecque 
rolled in chariots and drove cabs ; Villebecque gave 
refined suppers to great nobles, who were honoured 
by the invitation ; Villebecque wore a red riband 
in the button-hole of his frock, and more than one 
cross in his gala dress. 

~ All this time the daughter of Stella increased in 
years and stature, and we must add in goodness : a 

229 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

mild soft-hearted girl, as yet with no decided char- 
acter, but one who loved calmness and seemed little 
fitted for the circle in which she found herself. In 
that circle however she ever experienced kindness 
and consideration. No enterprise however hazard- 
ous, no management however complicated, no 
schemes however vast, ever for a moment induced 
Villebecque to forget ' La Petite.' If only for one 
breathless instant, hardly a day elapsed but he saw 
her ; she was his companion in all his rapid move- 
ments, and he studied every comfort and conveni- 
ence that could relieve her delicate frame in some 
degree from the inconvenience and exhaustion of 
travel. He was proud to surround her with luxury 
and refinement ; to supply her with the most cele- 
brated masters ; to gratify every wish that she could 
express. 

But all this time Villebecque was dancing on a 
volcano. The catastrophe which inevitably occurs 
in the career of all great speculators, and especially 
theatrical ones, arrived to him. Flushed with his 
prosperity, and confident in his constant success, 
nothing would satisfy him but universal empire. 
He had established his despotism at Paris, his 
dynasties at Naples and at Milan ; but the North 
was not to him, and he was determined to appro- 
priate it. Berlin fell before a successful campaign, 
though a costly one ; but St. Petersburg and Lon- 
don still remained. Resolute and reckless nothing 
deterred Villebecque. One season all the Opera 
houses in Europe obeyed his nod, and at the end of 
it he was ruined. The crash was utter, universal, 
overwhelming ; and under ordinary circumstances 
a French bed and a brasier of charcoal alone re- 
mained for Villebecque, who was equal to the occa- 

230 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

sion. But the thought of ' La Petite ' and the 
remembrance of his promise to Stella deterred him 
from the deed. He reviewed his position in a 
spirit becoming a practical philosopher. Was he 
worse off than before he commenced his career.? 
Yes, because he was older ; — though to be sure he 
had his compensating reminiscences. But was he 
too old to do anything ? At forty-five the game was 
not altogether up ; and in a large theatre, not too 
much lighted, and with the artifices of a dramatic 
toilet, he might still be able successfully to re-assume 
those characters of coxcombs and ' muscadins,' in 
which he was once so celebrated. Luxury had per- 
haps a little too much enlarged his waist, but diet 
and rehearsals would set all right. 

Villebecque in their adversity broke to ' La 
Petite ' that the time had unfortunately arrived 
when it would be wise for her to consider the most 
effectual means for turning her talents and accom- 
plishments to account. He himself suggested the 
stage, to which otherwise there were doubtless objec- 
tions, because her occupation in any other pursuit 
would necessarily separate them ; but he impartially 
placed before her the relative advantages and dis- 
advantages of every course which seemed to lay open 
to them and left the preferable one to her own 
decision. ' La Petite,' who had wept very much 
over Villebecque's misfortunes and often as- 
sured him that she cared for them only for his sake, 
decided for the stage, solely because it would secure 
their not being parted ; and yet, as she often as- 
sured him, she feared she had no predisposition for 
the career. 

Villebecque had now not only to fill his own parts 
at the theatre at which he had obtained an engage- 

231 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

ment, but he had also to be the instructor of his 
ward. It was a life of toil ; an addition of labour 
and effort that need scarcely have been made to the 
exciting exertion of performance, and the dull exer- 
cise of rehearsal ; but he bore it all without a mur- 
mur ; with a self-command and a gentle perse- 
verance which the finest temper in the world could 
hardly account for ; certainly not when we remember 
its possessor who had to make all these exertions 
and endure all this wearisome toil, had just experi- 
enced the most shattering vicissitudes of fortune, 
and been hurled from the possession of absolute 
power and illimitable self-gratification. 

Lord Eskdale, who was always doing kind things 
to actors and actresses, had a great regard for Ville- 
becque with whom he had often supped. He had 
often been kind too to ' La Petite.' Lord Eskdale 
had a plan for putting Villebecque as he termed it, 
* on his legs again.' It was to establish him with 
a French company in London at some pretty theatre ; 
Lord Eskdale to take a private box and to make all 
his friends do the same. Villebecque, who was as 
sanguine as he was good tempered, was ravished 
by this friendly scheme. He immediately believed 
that he should recover his great fortunes as rapidly 
as he had lost them. He foresaw in * La Petite ' a 
genius as distinguished as that of her mother, 
although as yet not developed, and he was bound- 
less in his expressions of gratitude to his patron. 
And indeed of all friends, a friend in need is the 
most delightful. Lord Eskdale had the talent of 
being a friend in need. Perhaps it was because he 
knew so many worthless persons. But it often 
happens that worthless persons are merely people 
who are worth nothing. 

232 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

Lord Monmouth having written to Mr. Rigby of 
his intention to reside for some months at Con- 
ingsby, and having mentioned that he wished a 
troop of French comedians to be engaged for the 
summer, Mr. Rigby had immediately consulted 
Lord Eskdale on the subject, as the best current 
authority. Thinking this a good opportunity of 
giving a turn to poor Villebecque, and that it might 
serve as a capital introduction to their scheme of 
the London company, Lord Eskdale obtained for 
him the engagement. 

Villebecque and his little troop had now been a 
month at Coningsby, and had hitherto performed 
three times a week. Lord Monmouth was con- 
tent ; his guests much gratified ; the company on 
the whole much approved of. It was indeed con- 
sidering its limited numbers, a capital company. 
There was a young lady who played the old woman's 
parts — nothing could be more garrulous and vener- 
able ; and a lady of maturer years who performed 
the heroines, gay and graceful as May. Villebecque 
himself was a celebrity in characters of airy insol- 
ence and careless frolic. Their old man indeed was 
rather hard, but handy ; could take anything either 
in the high serious or the low droll. The senti- 
mental lover was rather too much bewigged, and 
spoke too much to the audience, a fault rare with 
the French ; but this hero had a vague idea that he 
was ultimately destined to run off with a Princess. 

In this wise, affairs had gone on for a month ; 
very well, but not too well. The enterprising 
genius of Villebecque, once more a manager, 
prompted him to action. He felt an itching desire 
to announce a novelty. He fancied Lord Mon- 
mouth had yawned once or twice when the heroine 

233 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

came on. Villebecque wanted to make a ' coup.' 
It was clear that ' La Petite ' must sooner or later 
begin. Could she find a more favourable audience, 
or a more fitting occasion than were now offered.'* 
True it was she had a great repugnance to come out ; 
but it certainly seemed more to her advantage that 
she should make her first appearance at a private 
theatre than at a public one ; supported by all the 
encouraging patronage of Coningsby Castle, than 
subjected to all the cynical criticism of the stalls of 
St. James's. 

These views and various considerations were 
urged and represented by Villebecque to * La 
Petite,' with all the practised powers of plausibility 
of which so much experience as a manager had made 
him master. ' La Petite ' looked infinitely dis- 
tressed, but yielded as she ever did. And the night 
of Coningsby's arrival at the castle was to witness 
in its private theatre the first appearance of Made- 
moiselle Flora. 

CHAPTER VIII 

The guests re-assembled in the great saloon before 
they repaired to the theatre. A lady on the arm of 
the Russian Prince bestowed on Coningsby a 
haughty, but not ungracious, bow ; which he re- 
turned, unconscious of the person to whom he bent. 
She was however a very striking person : not beau- 
tiful ; her face indeed at the first glance was most 
repulsive, yet it ever attracted a second gaze. A 
remarkable pallor distinguished her ; her features 
had neither regularity nor expression ; neither were 
her eyes fine ; but her brow impressed you with an 
idea of power of no ordinary character or capacity.! 

234 



I 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

Her figure was as fine and commanding as her face 
was void of charm. Juno, in the full bloom of her 
immortality, could have presented nothing more 
majestic. Coningsby watched her as she swept 
along like a resistless Fate. 

Servants now went round and presented to each 
of the guests a billet of the performance. It an- 
nounced in striking characters the ' debut ' of 
Mademoiselle Flora. A principal servant bearing 
branch lights, came forward and bowed to the Mar- 
quess. Lord Monmouth went immediately to the 
Archduke, and notified to his Imperial Highness 
that the comedy was ready. The Archduke offered 
his arm to the Ambassadress ; the rest were follow- 
ing ; Coningsby was called. Madame Colonna 
wished him to be her beau. 

It was a very pretty theatre ; had been rapidly 
rubbed up, and renovated here and there ; the 
painting just touched ; a little gilding on a cornice. 
There were no boxes, but the ground floor which 
gradually ascended was carpeted, and covered with 
arm-chairs, and the back of the theatre with a new 
and rich curtain of green velvet. 

They are all seated ; a great artist performs on 
the violin, accompanied by another great artist on 
the piano. The lights rise ; somebody evidently 
crosses the stage behind the curtain. They are dis- 
posing the scene. In a moment the curtain will 
rise also. 

'Have you seen Lucretia.^^' said the Princess to 
Coningsby. ' She is so anxious to resume her 
acquaintance with you.' 

But before he could answer the bell rang, and 
the curtain rose. 

The old man, who had a droll part to-night, came 
235 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

forward, and maintained a conversation with his 
housekeeper ; not bad. The young woman who 
played the grave matron, performed with great 
finish. She was a favourite and was ever applauded. 
The second scene came ; a saloon tastefully fur- 
nished ; a table with flowers, arranged with grace ; 
birds in cages, a lap-dog on a cushion ; some books. 
The audience were pleased ; especially the ladies : 
they like to recognise signs of ' bon-ton ' in the 
details of the scene. A rather awful pause ; and 
Mademoiselle Flora enters. She was greeted with 
even vehement approbation. Her agitation is 
extreme ; she curtseys, and bows her head, as if to 
hide her face. The face was pleasing, and pretty 
enough ; soft and engaging. Her figure slight 
and graceful. Nothing could be more perfect than 
her costume ; purely white, but the fashion con- 
summate ; a single rose her only ornament. All 
admitted that her hair was arranged to admiration. 

At length she spoke ; her voice trembled, but 
she had a good elocution though her organ wanted 
force. The gentlemen looked at each other, and 
nodded approbation. There was something so un- 
obtrusive in her mien, that she instantly became a 
favourite with the ladies. The scene was not long, 
but it was triumphant. 

Flora did not appear in the next scene. In the 
fourth and final one of the act, she had to make a 
grand display. It was a love scene ; and rather of 
an impassioned character ; Villebecque was her 
suitor. He entered first on the stage. Never had 
he looked so well, or performed with more spirit. 
You would not have given him five-and-twenty 
years ; he seemed redolent of youth. His dress 
too was admirable. He had studied the most dis- 

236 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

tinguished of his audience for the occasion, and had 
outdone them all. The fact is, he had been assisted 
a little by a great connoisseur, a celebrated French 
nobleman, Count D — y, who had been one of the 
guests. The thing was perfect, and Lord Mon- 
mouth took a pinch of snuff, and tapped approba- 
tion on the top of his box. 

Flora now re-appeared, received with renewed 
approbation. It did not seem however that in the 
interval she had gained courage ; she looked agi- 
tated. She spoke, she proceeded with her part ; it 
became impassioned. She had to speak of her feel- 
ings ; to tell the secrets of her heart ; to confess 
that she loved another : her emotion was exquisitely 
performed, the mournful tenderness of her tones 
thrilling. There was throughout the audience a 
dead silence ; all were absorbed in their admiration 
of the unrivalled artist ; all felt a new genius had 
visited the stage ; — but while they were fascinated 
by the actress, the woman was in torture. The 
emotion v/as the disturbance of her own soul ; the 
mournful tenderness of her tones thrilled from the 
heart : suddenly she clasped her hands with all the 
exhaustion of woe ; an expression of agony flitted 
over her countenance ; and she burst into tears. 
Villebecque rushed forward, and carried rather than 
led her from the stage ; the audience looked at each 
other, some of them suspecting that this movement 
was a part of the scene. 

' She has talent,' said Lord Monmouth to the 
Russian ambassadress, ' but wants practice. Ville- 
becque should send her for a time to the pro- 
vinces.' 

At length M. Villebecque came forward to express 
his deep regret that the sudden and severe indis- 

237 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

position of Mile. Flora rendered it impossible for 
the company to proceed with the piece ; but that 
the curtain would descend to rise again for the 
second and last piece announced. 

All this accordingly took place. The experi- 
enced performer who acted the heroines, now came 
forward and disported most jocundly. The failure 
of Flora had given fresh animation to her perpetual 
liveliness. She seemed the very soul of elegant 
frolic. In the last scene she figured in male attire ; 
and in air, fashion, and youth, beat Villebecque out 
of the field. She looked younger than Coningsby 
when he went up to his grand-papa. 

The comedy was over, the curtain fell, the audi- 
ence much amused chattered brilliant criticism, and 
quitted the theatre to repair to the saloon where 
they were to be diverted to-night with Russian 
dances. Nobody thought of the unhappy Flora ; 
not a single message to console her in her grief, to 
compliment her on what she had done, to encourage 
her future. And yet it was a season for a word of 
kindness ; so at least thought one of the audience, 
as he lingered behind the hurrying crowd absorbed 
in their coming amusements. 

Coningsby had sat very near the stage ; he had 
observed with great advantage and attention the 
countenance and movements of Flora from the be- 
ginning. He was fully persuaded that her woe was 
genuine and profound. He had felt his eyes moist 
when she had wept. He recoiled from the cruelty 
and the callousness that, without the slightest 
symptom of sympathy, could leave a young girl 
who had been labouring for their amusement and 
who was suffering for her trial. 

He got on the stage, ran behind the scenes, and 
238 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

asked for Mile. Flora. They pointed to a door ; he 
requested permission to enter. Flora was sitting at 
a table with her face resting on her hands. Ville- 
becque was there, resting on the edge of the tall 
fender, and still in the dress in which he had per- 
formed in the last piece. 

' I took the liberty,' said Coningsby, ' of inquir- 
ing after Mile. Flora ;' and then advancing to her, 
who had raised her head, he added : ' I am sure my 
grandfather must feel much indebted to you Made- 
moiselle, for making such exertions when you were 
suffering under so much indisposition.' 

' This is very amiable of you, sir,' said the young 
lady, looking at him with earnestness. 

' Mademoiselle has too much sensibility,' said 
Villebecque, making an observation by way of 
diversion. 

' And yet that must be the soul of fine acting,' 
said Coningsby ; I look forward — all look forward 
— with great interest to the next occasion on which 
you will favour us.' 

' Never ! ' said La Petite in a plaintive tone ; ' oh, 
I hope, never!' 

' Mademoiselle is not aware at this moment,' said 
Coningsby, * how much her talent is appreciated. 
I assure you, sir,' he added, turning to Villebecque, 
' I heard but one opinion, but one expression of 
gratification at her feeling and her fine taste.' 

' The talent is hereditary,' said Villebecque. 

' Indeed you have reason to say so,' said Con- 
ingsby. 

' Pardon ; I was not thinking of myself. My 
child reminded me so much of another this evening. 
But that is nothing. I am glad you are here, sir, to 
re-assure Mademoiselle.' 

239 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

* I came only to congratulate her, and to lament, 
for our sakes as well as her own, her indisposition.' 

' It is not indisposition,' said La Petite in a tone, 
with her eyes fixed on the table. 

' Mademoiselle cannot overcome the nervousness 
incidental to a first appearance,' said Villebecque. 

' A last appearance,' said La Petite ; ' yes, it must 
be the last.' She rose gently, she approached Ville- 
becque, she laid her head on his breast, and placed 
her arms round his neck, ' My father, my best 
father, yes, say it is the last!' 

' You are the mistress of your lot. Flora,' said 
Villebecque ; ' but with such a distinguished 
talent — ' 

' No, no, no : no talent. You are wrong, my 
father. I know myself. I am not of those to 
whom nature gives talents. I am born only for still 
life. I have no taste except for privacy. The con- 
vent is more suited to me than the stage.' 

* But you hear what this gentleman says,' said 
Villebecque returning her embrace. ' He tells you 
that his grandfather — my Lord Marquess I believe, 
sir, — that every one — that — ' 

'Ah, no, no, no!' said Flora, shaking her head. 
' He comes here because he is generous, because he 
is a gentleman ; and he wished to soothe the soul 
that he knew was suffering. Thank him, my father, 
thank him for me and before me, and promise in his 
^ presence that the stage and your daughter have 

^ parted for ever.' 

' Nay, Mademoiselle,' said Coningsby advancing 
\ and venturing to take her hand, a soft hand, ' make 
^ no such resolutions to-night. M. Villebecque can 
have no other thought or object but your happi- 
ness : and believe me 'tis not I only, but all, who 

240 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

appreciate, and if they were here, must respect 
you.' 

' I prefer respect to admiration,' said Flora ; ' but 
I fear that respect is not the appanage of such as I 
am.' 

' All must respect those who respect themselves,' 
.aid Coningsby. ' Adieu, Mademoiselle ; I trust 
to-morrow to hear that you are yourself.' He 
bowed to Villebecque and retired. 

In the mean time, affairs in the drawing-room 
assumed a very different character to those behind 
the scenes. Coningsby returned to brilliancy, 
groups apparently gushing with light-heartedness, 
universal content, and Russian dances ! 

' x\nd you too, do you dance the Russian dances, 
Mr. Coninorsbv .'^ said Madame Colonna. 

' I cannot dance at all,' said Coningsby, beginning 
a little to lose his pride in the want of an accom- 
plishment which at Eton he had thought it spirited 
to despise. 

' Ah ! you cannot dance the Russian dances ! 
Lucretia shall teach you,' said the Princess ; ' nothing 
will please her so much.' 

On the present occasion the ladies were not as 
experienced in the entertainment as the gentlemen ; 
but there was amusement in being instructed. To 
be disciplined by an Archduke or a Russian Princess 
was all very well ; but what even the good-tempered 
Lady Gaythorpe could not pardon was, that a cer- 
tain Mrs. Guy Flouncey, whom they were all of 
them trying to put down, and keep down, on this, as 
almost on every other occasion, proved herself a 
more finished performer than even the Russians 
themselves. 

Lord Monmouth had picked up the Guy Floun- 

Q 241 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

ceys during a Roman winter. They were people 
of some position in society. Mr. Guy Flouncey 
was a man of good estate, a sportsman, proud of his 
pretty wife. Mrs. Guy Flouncey was even very 
pretty, dressed in a style of ultra fashion. How- 
ever, she could sing, dance, act, ride, and talk, and 
all well ; and was mistress of the art of flirtation. 
She had amused the Marquess abroad, and had taken 
care to call at Monmouth House, the instant the 
Morning Post apprised her he had arrived in 
England ; the consequence was an invitation to Con- 
ingsby. She came with a wardrobe which, in point 
of variety, fancy and fashion, never was surpassed. 
Morning and evening, every day a new dress equally 
striking ; and a riding-habit that was the talk and 
wonder of the whole neighbourhood. Mrs. Guy 
Flouncey created far more sensation in the borough 
when she rode down the High Street, than what the 
good people called the real Princesses. 

At first the fine ladies never noticed her, or only 
stared at her over their shoulders ; every where 
sounded, in suppressed whispers, the fatal question, 
* Who is she ?^ After dinner they formed always 
into polite groups, from which Mrs. Guy Flouncey 
was invariably excluded ; and if ever the Princess 
Colonna, impelled partly by her good nature, and 
partly from having known her on the continent, did 
kindly sit by her. Lady St. Julians, or some dame 
equally benevolent, was sure by an adroit appeal to 
her Highness on some point which could not be 
decided without moving, to withdraw her from her 
pretty and persecuted companion. 

It was indeed rather diflFicult work the first few 
days for Mrs. Guy Flouncey, especially immediately 
after dinner. It is not soothing to one's self-love 

242 






Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

to find oneself sitting alone pretending to look at 
prints in a fine drawing-room full of fine people who 
don't speak to you. But Mrs. Guy Flouncey, after 
having taken Coningsby Castle by storm, was not 
to be driven out of its drawing-room by the tactics 
even of a Lady St. Julians. Experience convinced 
her that all that was required was a little patience. 
Mrs. Guy had confidence in herself, her quickness, 
her ever ready accomplishments, and her practised 
powers of attraction. And she was right. She 
was always sure of an ally the moment the gentle- 
men apeared. The cavalier who had sate next to her 
at dinner was only too happy to meet her again. 
More than once too she had caught her noble host, 
though a whole garrison was ever on the watch to 
prevent her, and he was greatly amused, and showed 
that he was greatly amused by her society. Then 
she suggested plans to him to divert his guests. In 
a country-house the suggestive mind is inestimable. 
Some how or other, before a week was past, Mrs. 
Guy Flouncey seemed the soul of everything, was 
always surrounded by a cluster of admirers, and with 
what are called * the best men ' ever ready to ride 
with her, dance with her, act with her, or fall at her 
feet. The fine ladies found it absolutely necessary 
to thaw : they began to ask her questions after 
dinner. Mrs. Guy Flouncey only wanted an open- 
ing. She was an adroit flatterer, with a temper 
ijnperturbable, and gifted with a ceaseless energy of 
conferrino^ slight obligations. She lent them pat- 
terns for new fashions, in all which mysteries she 
was very versant ; and what with some gentle gloz- 
ing and some gay gossip, sugar for their tongues 
and salt for their tails, she contrived pretty well to 
catch them all. 

243 



CONINGSBY Book IV 



CHAPTER IX 

Nothing could present a greater contrast than the 
respective interiors of Coningsby and Beaumanoir. 
That air of habitual habitation, which so pleasingly 
distinguished the Duke's family seat, was entirely 
wanting at Coningsby. Everything indeed was 
vast and splendid ; but it seemed rather a gala-house 
than a dwelling ; as if the grand furniture and the 
grand servants had all come down express from town 
with the grand company, and were to disappear and 
to be dispersed at the same time. And truly there 
were very manifold traces of hasty and temporary 
arrangement ; new carpets and old hangings ; old 
paint, new gilding ; battalions of odd French chairs, 
squadrons of queer English tables ; and large taste- 
less lamps and tawdry chandeliers, evidently true 
cockneys, and only taking the air by way of change. 
There was too throughout the drawing-rooms an 
absence of all those minor articles of ornamental 
furniture that are the offering of taste to the home 
we love. There were no books neither ; no flowers ; 
no pet animals ; no portfolios of fine drawings by 
our English artists like the album of the Duchess, 
full of sketches by Landseer and Stanfield, and their 
gifted brethren ; not a print even, except portfolios 
of H.B.'s caricatures. The modes and manners of 
the house were not rural ; there was nothing of the 
sweet order of a country life. Nobody came down 
to breakfast ; the ladies were scarcely seen until 
dinner time ; they rolled about in carriages together 
late in the afternoon as if they were in London, or 
led a sort of factitious boudoir life in their provin- 
cial dressing-rooms. 

244 



Chapter IX CONINGSBY 

The Marquess sent for Coningsby the morning 
after his arrival and asked him to breakfast with 
him in his private rooms. Nothing could be more 
kind or more agreeable than his grandfather. He 
appeared to be very interested in his grandson's pro- 
gress, was glad to find Coningsby had distinguished 
himself at Eton, solemnly adjured him not to neglect 
his French. A classical education, he said, was a 
very admirable thing, and one which all gentlemen 
should enjoy ; but Coningsby would find some day 
that there were two educations, one which his posi- 
tion required, and another which was demanded by 
the world. ' French, my dear Harry,' he continued, 
' is the key to this second education. In a couple 
of years or so you will enter the world ; it's a diffe- 
rent thing to what you read about. It's a mas- 
querade ; a motley sparkling multitude, in which 
you may mark all forms and colours, and listen to 
all sentiments and opinions ; but where all you see 
and hear has only one object — plunder. When you 
get into this crowd you will find that Greek and 
Latin are not so much diffused as you imagine. I 
was glad to hear you speaking French yesterday. 
Study your accent. There are a good many 
foreigners here with whom you may try your wing 
a little ; don't talk to any of them too much. Be 
very carefiil of intimacies. All the people here are 
good acquaintance ; at least pretty well. Now, 
here,' said the Marquess, taking up a letter and then 
throwing it on the table again, ' now here is a man 
whom I should like you to know^, Sidonia. He will 
be here in a few days. Lay yourself out for him if 
you have the opportunity. He is a man of rare 
capacity, and enormously rich. No one knows the 
world like Sidonia. I never met his equal ; and 

245 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

'tis so pleasant to talk with one that can want noth- 
ing of you.' 

Lord Monmouth had invited Coningsby to take 
a drive with him in the afterrfbon. The Marquess 
wished to show a part of his domain to the ambassa- 
dress. Only Lucretia, he said, would be with them, 
and there was a place for him. This invitation was 
readily accepted by Coningsby, who was not yet 
sufficiently established in the habits of the house 
exactly to know how to pass his morning. His 
friend and patron Mr. Rigby was entirely taken up 
with the Archduke, whom he was accompanying all 
over the neighbourhood in visits to manufactures, 
many of which Rigby himself saw for the 
first time, but all of which he fluently ex- 
plained to His Imperial Highness. In return 
for this, he extracted much information from 
the Archduke on Russian plans and projects, 
materials for a * slashing ' article against the Russo- 
phobia that he was preparing, and in which he was 
to prove that Muscovite aggression was an English 
interest, and entirely to be explained by the want of 
sea-coast, which drove the Czar, for the pure pur- 
poses of commerce, to the Baltic and the Euxine. 

When the hour for the drive arrived, Coningsby 
found Lucretia, a young girl when he had first seen 
her only four years back, and still his junior, in that 
majestic dame who had conceded a superb recogni- 
tion to him the preceding eve. She really looked 
older than Madame Colonna ; who, very beautiful, 
very young looking, and mistress of the real arts of 
the toilette, those that cannot be detected, was not in 
the least altered since she first so cordially saluted 
Coningsby, as her dear young friend at Monmouth 
House. 

246 



Chapter IX CONINGSBY 

The day was delightful, the park extensive and 
picturesque, the Ambassadress sparkling with anec- 
dote, and occasionally, in a low voice, breathing a 
diplomatic hint to Lord Monmouth, who bowed his 
graceful consciousness of her distinguished confid- 
ence. Coningsby occasionally took advantage of 
one of those moments, when the conversation ceased 
to be general, to address Lucretia, who replied in 
calm, fine, smiles, and in affable monosyllables. She 
indeed generally succeeded in conveying an impres- 
sion to those she addressed, that she had never seen 
them before, did not care to see them now, and never 
wished to see them again. And all this too with an 
air of great courtesy. 

They arrived at the brink of a wooded bank ; at 
their feet flowed a very fine river, deep and rushing, 
though not broad ; its opposite bank the boundary 
of a richly timbered park. 

' Ah ! this is beautiful ! ' exclaimed the Ambassa- 
dress. 'And is that yours, Lord Monmouth.?' 

' Not yet,' said the Marquess. ' That is Hell- 
ingsley ; it is one of the finest places in the county, 
with a splendid estate ; not so considerable as Con- 
ingsby, but very great. It belongs to an old, a 
very old man, without a relative in the world. It 
is known that the estate will be sold at his death, 
which may be almost daily expected. Then it is 
mine. No one can oifer for it what I can afl^ord. 
For it gives me this division of the county. Princess. 
To possess Hellingsley is one of my objects.' The 
Marquess spoke with an animation unusual with 
him, almost with a degree of excitement. 

The wind met them as they returned, the breeze 
blew rather freshly. Lucretia all of a sudden seemed 
touched with unusual emotion. She was alarmed 

247 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

lest Lord Monmouth should catch cold ; she took a 
kerchief from her own well-turned throat to tie 
round his neck. He feebly resisted, evidently much 
pleased. 

The Princess Lucretia was highly accomplished. 
In the evening, having refused several distinguished 
guests, but instantly yielding to the request of Lord 
Monmouth, she sang. It was impossible to con- 
ceive a contralto of more thrilling power, or an exe- 
cution more worthy of the voice. Coningsby, who 
was not experienced in fine singing, listened as if to 
a supernatural lay, but all agreed it was of the 
highest class of nature and of art ; and the Arch- 
duke was in raptures. Lucretia received even his 
Highness's compliments with a graceful indiffer- 
ence. Indeed to those who watched her demeanour, 
it might be remarked that she seemed to yield to 
none, although all bowed before her. 

Madame Colonna, who was always extremely 
kind to Coningsby, expressed to him her gratifica- 
tion from the party of the morning. It must have 
been delightful, she assured Coningsby, for Lord 
Monmouth to have had both Lucretia and his 
grandson witji him ; and Lucretia too, she added, 
must have been so pleased. 

Coningsby could not make out why Madame 
Colonna was always intimating to him that the Prin- 
cess Lucretia took such great interest in his exist- 
ence, looked forward with such gratification to his 
society, remembered with so much pleasure the 
past, anticipated so much happiness from the future. 
It appeared to him that he was to Lucretia, if not 
an object of repugnance, as he sometimes fancied, 
certainly one only of absolute indifference ; but he 
said nothing. He had already lived long enough 

248 



Chapter IX CONINGSBY 

to know that it is unwise to wish every thing ex- 
plained. 

In the meantime, his life was agreeable. Every- 
day he found added to his acquaintance. He was 
never without a companion to ride or to shoot with ; 
and of riding Coningsby was very fond. His 
grandfather too was continually giving him good- 
natured turns, and making him of consequence in 
the castle ; so that all the guests were fully im- 
pressed with the importance of Lord Monmouth's 
grandson. Lady St. Julians pronounced him dis- 
tinguished ; the Ambassadress thought diplomacy 
should be his part as he had a fine person and a 
clear brain ; Madame Colonna spoke of him always 
as if she took intense interest in his career, and de- 
clared that she liked him almost as much as Lucretia 
did; the Russians persisted in always styling him 'the 
young Marquess,' notwithstanding the Ambassa- 
dor's explanations ; Mrs. Guy Flouncey made a 
dashing attack on him ; but Coningsby remembered 
a lesson which Lady Everingham had graciously 
bestowed on him. He was not to be caught again i 
easily. Besides Mrs. Guy Flouncey laughed a little f^c^J^. 
too much, and talked a little too loud. '^ 

^ As time flew on, there were changes of visitors, 
chiefly among the single men. At the end of the 
first week after Coningsby's arrival. Lord Eskdale 
appeared, bringing with him Lucian Gay ; and soon 
after followed the Marquess of Beaumanoir, and Mr. 
Melton. These were all heroes who, in their way, 
interested the ladies, and whose advent was hailed 
with general satisfaction. Even Lucretia would 
relax a little to Lord Eskdale. He was one of her 
oldest friends, and with a simplicity of manner 
which amounted almost to plainness, and with rather 

249 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

a cynical nonchalance in his carriage towards men, 
Lord Eskdale was invariably a favourite with 
women. To be sure his station was eminent ; he 
was noble, and very rich, and very powerful, and 
these are qualities which tell as much with the softer 
as the harsher sex ; — but there are individuals with 
all these qualities who are nevertheless unpopular 
with women. Lord Eskdale was easy, knew the 
world thoroughly, had no prejudices, and above all, 
had a reputation for success. A reputation for suc- 
cess has as much influence with women, as a reputa- 
tion for wealth has with men. Both reputations 
may be, and often are, unjust ; but we see persons 
daily make good fortunes by them all the same. 
Lord Eskdale was not an impostor ; and though he 
might not have been so successful a man had he not 
been Lord Eskdale, still thrown over by a revolu- 
tion, he would have lighted on his legs. 

The arrival of this nobleman was the occasion of 
giving a good turn to poor Flora. He went im- 
mediately to see his friend Villebecque and his 
troop. Indeed it was a sort of society which pleased 
Lord Eskdale more than that which is deemed more 
refined. He was very sorry about * La Petite ;' but 
thought that everything would come right in the 
long run ; and told Villebecque he was glad to hear 
him well spoken of here, especially by the Marquess, 
who seemed to take to him. As for Flora, he was 
entirely against her attempting the stage again, at 
least for the present, but as she was a good musician, 
and sang a good second, he suggested to the Prin- 
cess Lucretia one night, that the subordinate aid of 
Flora might be of service to her, and permit her to 
favour her friends with some pieces which otherwise 
she must deny to them. This suggestion was suc- 

2^0 



Chapter IX CONINGSBY 

cessful ; Flora was introduced occasionally, soon 
often, to their parties in the evening, and her per- 
formances were in every respect satisfactory. There 
was nothing to excite the jealousy of Lucretia either 
in her style or her person. And yet she sang well 
enough, and was a quiet, refined, retiring, by no 
means disagreeable person. She was the companion 
of Lucretia very often in the morning as well as in 
the illumined saloon ; for the Princess was very 
devoted to the art in which she excelled. This con- 
nection on the whole contributed to the happiness of 
poor Flora. True it was, in the evening she often 
found herself sitting or standing alone and no one 
noticing her ; she had no dazzling quality to attract 
men of fashion, who themselves love to worship ever 
the fashionable. Even their goddesses must be ' a 
la mode.' But Coningsby never omitted an oppor- 
tunity to show Flora some kindness under these cir- 
cumstances. He always came and talked to her, 
and praised her singing, and would sometimes hand 
her refreshments and give her his arm if necessary. 
These slight attentions coming from the grandson 
of Lord Monmouth were for the world redoubled in 
their value ; though Flora thought only of their 
essential kindness ; all in character with that first 
visit which dwelt on the poor girl's memory, though 
it had long ago escaped that of her visitor. For in 
truth Coningsby had no other impulse for his con- 
duct but kind-heartedness. 

Thus we have attempted to give some faint idea 
how life glided away at the castle the first fortnight 
that Coningsby passed there. Perhaps we ought 
not to omit that Mrs. Guy Flouncey, to the infinite 
disgust of Lady St. Julians who had a daughter with 
her, successfully entrapped the devoted attentions of 

251 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

the young Marquess of Beaumanoir, who was never 
very backward if a lady would take trouble enough ; 
while his friend Mr. Melton, whose barren homage 
Lady St. Julians wished, her daughter ever particu- 
larly to shun, employed all his gaiety, good humour, 
frivolity and fashion, in amusing that young lady, 
and with irresistible effect. For the rest, they con- 
tinued, though they had only partridges to shoot, to 
pass the morning without weariness. The weather 
was fine ; the stud numerous ; all might be 
mounted. The Archduke and his suite, guided by 
Mr. Rigby, had always some objects to visit, and 
railroads returned them just in time for the ban- 
quet with an appetite which they had earned, and 
during which Rigby recounted their achievements, 
and his own opinions. 

The dinner was always first rate ; the evening 
never failed ; music, dancing and the theatre, offered 
great resources independent of the soul-subduing 
sentiment harshly called flirtation, and which is the 
spell of a country-house. Lord Monmouth was 
satisfied for he had scarcely ever felt wearied. All 
that he required in life was to be amused ; perhaps 
that was not all he required, but it was indispensable. 
Nor was it wonderful that on the present occasion 
he obtained his purpose, for there were half a hun- 
dred of the brightest eyes and quickest brains ever 
on the watch or the whirl, to secure him distraction. 
The only circumstance that annoyed him was the 
non-arrival of Sidonia. Lord Monmouth could not 
bear to be disappointed. He could not refrain 
from saying notwithstanding all the resources and 
all the exertions of his guests : 

* I cannot understand why Sidonia does not come. 
I wish Sidonia were here.' 

252 , 



Chapter IX CONINGSBY 

' So do I,' said Lord Eskdale, * Sidonia is the only 
man who tells one anything new.' 

' We saw Sidonia at Lord Studcaster's,' said the 
Marquess of Beaumanoir. ' He told Melton he 
was coming here.' 

' You know he has bought all Studcaster's horses,' 
said Mr. Melton. 

' I wonder he does not buy Studcaster himself,' 
said Lord Monmouth, ' I would if I were he ; Sid- 
onia can buy anything,' he turned to Mrs. Guy 
Flouncey. 

' I wonder who Sidonia is,' thought Mrs. Guy 
Flouncey, but she was determined no one should 
suppose she did not know. 

At length .one day Coningsby met Madame Col- 
onna in the vestibule before dinner. 

' Milor is in such good temper, Mr. Coningsby,' 
she said ; * Monsieur de Sidonia has arrived.' 

About ten minutes before dinner there was a stir 
in the chamber. Coningsby looked round. He 
saw the Archduke advancing, and holding out his 
hand in a manner the most gracious. A gentleman, 
of distinguished air, but with his back turned to 
Coningsby, was bowing as he received his High- 
ness's greeting. There was a general pause in the 
room. Several came forward : even the Marquess 
seemed a little moved. Coningsby could not resist 
the impulse of curiosity to see this individual of 
whom he had heard so much. He glided round the 
room, and caught the countenance of his companion 
in the forest inn ; he who announced to him, that 
* the Age of Ruins was past.' 



253 



CONINGSBY Book IV 



CHAPTER X 

SiDONiA was descended from a very ancient and 
noble family of Arragon, that, in the course of ages, 
had given to the state many distinguished citizens. 
In the priesthood its members had been peculiarly 
eminent. Besides several prelates, they counted 
among their number an Archbishop of Toledo ; and 
a Sidonia, in a season of great danger and difficulty, 
had exercised for a series of years the paramount 
office of Grand Inquisitor. 

Yet, strange as it may sound, it is nevertheless a 
fact of which there is no lack of evidence, that this 
illustrious family during all this period, in common 
with two-thirds of the Arragonese nobility, secretly 
adhered to the ancient faith and ceremonies of their 
fathers — a belief in the unity of the God of 
Sinai, and the rites and observances of the laws of 
Moses. 

Whence came those Hebrew Arabs whose passage 
across the strait from Africa to Europe long pre- 
ceded the invasion of the Mohammedan Arabs, it is 
now impossible to ascertain. Their traditions tell 
us that from time immemorial they had sojourned 
in Africa ; and it is not improbable that they may 
have been the descendants of some of the earlier 
dispersions ; like those Hebrew colonies that we 
find in China, and who probably emigrated from 
Persia in the days of the great monarchies. What- 
ever may have been their origin in Africa, their 
fortunes in Southern Europe are not difficult to 
trace, though the annals of no race in no age can 
detail a history of such strange vicissitudes, or one 
rife with more touching and romantic incident. 

254 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 

Their unexampled prosperity in the Spanish Penin- 
sula, and especially in the south, where they had 
become the principal cultivators of the soil, excited 
the jealousy of the Goths, and the Councils of 
Toledo during the sixth and seventh centuries at- 
tempted, by a series of decrees worthy of the bar- 
barians who promulgated them, to root the Jewish 
Arabs out of the land. There is no doubt the 
Council of Toledo led as directly as the lust of 
Roderick to the invasion of Spain by the Moslemin 
Arabs. The Jewish population suffering under the 
most sanguinary and atrocious persecution looked to 
their sympathizing brethren of the Crescent, whose 
camps already gleamed on the opposite shore. The 
overthrow of the Gothic kingdoms was as much 
achieved by the superior information which the 
Saracens received from their suffering kinsmen, as 
by the resistless valour of the Desart. The Saracen 
kingdoms were established. That fair and un- 

..... . n 

rivalled civilization arose, which preserved for 
Europe arts and letters when Christendom was 
plunged in darkness. The children of Ishmael re- 
warded the children of Israel with equal rights and 
privileges with themselves. During these halcyon 
centuries, it is difficult to distinguish the follower 
of Moses from the votary of Mahomet. Both alike 
built palaces, gardens and fountains ; filled equally 
the highest offices of the state, competed in an ex- 
tensive and enlightened commerce, and rivalled each 
other in renowned universities. 

Even after the fall of the principal Moorish king- 
doms, the Jews of Spain were still treated by the 
conquering Goths with tenderness and consideration. 
Their numbers, their wealth, the fact that, in Arra- 
gon especially, they were the proprietors of the soil. 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

and surrounded by warlike and devoted followers, 
secured for them an usage which for a considerable 
period made them little sensible of the change of 
dynasties and religions. But the tempest gradu- 
ally gathered. As the Goths grew stronger, perse- 
cution became more bold. Where the Jewish popu- 
lation was scanty, they were deprived of their 
privileges or obliged to conform under the title of 
* Nuovos Christianos.' At length the union of the 
two crowns under Ferdinand and Isabella, and the 
fall of the last Moorish kingdom, brought the crisis 
of their fate both to the New Christian and the non- 
conforming Hebrew. The Inquisition appeared, 
the Institution that had exterminated the AAigenses 
and had desolated Languedoc, and which it should 
ever be remembered was established in the Spanish 
kingdoms against the protests of the Cortes and 
amid the terror of the populace. The Dominicans 
opened their first tribunal at Seville, and it is curious 
that the first individuals they summoned before 
them were the Duke of Medina Sidonia, the Mar- 
quess of Cadiz, and the Count of Arcos ; three of 
the most considerable personages in Spain. How 
many were burned alive at Seville during the first 
year, how many imprisoned for life, what countless 
thousands were visited with severe though lighter 
punishments, need not be recorded here. In noth- 
ing was the Holy Office more happy than in multi- 
form and subtle means by which they tested the sin- 
cerity of the New Christians. 

At length the Inquisition was to be extended to 
Arragon. The high-spirited nobles of that kingdom 
knew that its institution was for them a matter of 
life or death. The Cortes of Arragon appealed to 
the King and to the Pope ; they organized an ex- 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 

tensive conspiracy ; the chief Inquisitor was ass- 
assinated in the Cathedral of Saragossa. Alas! it 
was fated that in this, one of the many, and con- 
tinual, and continuing struggles between the rival 
organizations of the North and the South, the 
children of the sun should fall. The fagot and the 
San Benito were the doom of the nobles of Arragon. 
Those who were convicted of secret Judaism, and 
this scarcely three centuries ago, were dragged to 
the stake ; the sons of the noblest houses, in whose 
veins the Hebrew taint could be traced, had to walk 
in solemn procession singing psalms and confessing 
their faith in the religion of the fell Torquamada. 

This triumph in Arragon, the almost simultaneous 
fall of the last Moorish kingdom, raised the hopes 
of the pure Christians to the highest pitch. Having 
purged the new Christians, they next turned their 
attention to the old Hebrews. Ferdinand was 
resolved that the delicious air of Spain should be 
breathed no longer by any one who did not profess 
the Catholic faith. Baptism or exile was the alter- 
native. More than six hundred thousand indivi- 
duals, some authorities greatly increase the amount, 
the most industrious, the most intelligent, and the 
most enlightened of Spanish subjects would not 
desert the religion of their fathers. For this they 
gave up the delightful land wherein they had lived 
for centuries, the beautiful cities they had raised, the 
universities from which Christendom drew for ages 
its most precious lore, the tombs of their ancestors, 
the temples where they had worshipped the God for 
whom they had made this sacrifice. They had but 
four months to prepare for eternal exile after 
a residence of as many centuries, during which 
brief period forced sales and glutted markets 

R 257 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

virtually confiscated their property. It is a 
calamity that the scattered nation still ranks with 
the desolations of Nebuchadnezzar and of Titus. 
Who after this should say the Jews are by 
nature a sordid people? But the Spanish Goth 
then so cruel and so haughty, where is he? A 
despised suppliant to the very race which he banished 
for some miserable portion of the treasure which 
their habits of industry have again accumulated. 
Where is that tribunal that summoned Medina Sid- 
lonia and Cadiz to its dark inquisition? Where is 
Spain ? Its fall, its unparalleled and its irremedi- 
able fall, is mainly to be attributed to the expulsion 
of that large portion of its subjects, the most in- 
dustrious and intelligent, who traced their origin to 
the Mosaic and Mahomedan Arabs. 

The Sidonias of Arragon were Nuovos Chris- 
tianos. Some of them no doubt were burned alive 
at the end of the fifteenth century under the system 
of Torquamada, many of them doubtless wore the 
San Benito ; but they kept their titles and estates ; 
and in time reached those great offices to which we 
have referred. 

During the long disorders of the Peninsular war, 
when so many openings were off^ered to talent, and 
so many opportunities seized by the adventurous, 
a cadet of a younger branch of this family made a 
large fortune by military contracts, and supplying 
the commissariat of the different armies. At the 
peace, prescient of the great financial future of 
Europe, confident in the fertility of his own genius, 
in his original views of fiscal subjects, and his know- 
ledge of national resources, this Sidonia, feeling that 
Madrid, or even Cadiz, could never be a base on 
which the monetary transactions of the world could 

258 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 

be regulated, resolved to emigrate to England, with 
which he had in the course of years formed consider- 
able commercial connections. He arrived here 
after the peace of Paris with his large capital. He 
staked all that he was worth on the Waterloo loan ; 
and the event made him one of the greatest capital- 
ists in Europe. 

No sooner was Sidonia established in England, 
than he professed Judaism ; which Torquamada 
flattered himself, with the fagot and the San Benito, 
he had drained out of the veins of his family more 
than three centuries ago. He sent over also for 
several of his brothers who were as good Catholics 
in Spain as Ferdinand and Isabella could have 
possibly desired, but who made an offering in the 
synagogue, in gratitude for their safe voyage, on 
their arrival in England. 

Sidonia had foreseen in Spain, that after the ex- 
haustion of a war of twenty-five years, Europe must 
require capital to carry on peace. He reaped the 
due reward of his sagacity. Europe did require 
money, and Sidonia was ready to lend it to Europe. 
France wanted some ; Austria more ; Prussia a 
little ; Russia a few millions. Sidonia could fur- 
nish them all. The only country which he avoided 
was Spain ; he was too well acquainted with its re- 
sources. Nothing too would ever tempt him to 
lend anything to the revolted colonies of Spain. 
Prudence saved him from being a creditor of the 
mother country ; his Spanish pride recoiled from 
the rebellion of her children. 

It is not difficult to conceive that after having 
pursued the career we have intimated for about ten 
years, Sidonia had become one of the most consider- 
able personages in Europe. He had established a 

259 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

brother or a near relative in whom he could confide, 
in most of the principal capitals. He was lord and 
master of the money-market of the world, and of 
course virtually lord and master of everything else. 
He literally held the revenues of Southern Italy in 
pawn ; and monarchs and ministers of all countries 
courted his advice and were guided by his sugges- 
tions. He was still in the vigor of life, and was 
not a mere money-making machine. He had a 
general intelligence equal to his position, and looked 
forward to the period when some relaxation from 
his vast enterprises and exertions might enable him 
to direct his energies to great objects of public bene- 
fit. But in the height of this vast prosperity he 
suddenly died, leaving only one child, a youth still 
of tender years, and heir to the greatest fortune in 
Europe, so great indeed that it could only be cal- 
culated by millions. 

Shut out from universities and schools, those 
universities and schools which were indebted for 
their first knowledge of ancient philosophy to the 
learning and enterprise of his ancestors, the young 
Sidonia was fortunate in the tutor whom his father 
had procured for him, and who devoted to his charge 
all the resources of his trained intellect and vast and 
various erudition. A Jesuit before the revolution ; 
since then an exiled Liberal leader ; now a member 
of the Spanish Cortes ; Rebello was always a Jew. 
He found in his pupil that precocity of intellectual 
development which is characteristic of the Arabian 
organization. The young Sidonia penetrated the 
highest mysteries of mathematics with a facility 
almost instinctive ; while a memory, which never 
had any twilight hours, but always reflected a noon- 
tide clearness, seemed to magnify his acquisitions of 

260 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 

ancient learning by the promptness with which they 
could be re-produced and applied. 

The circumstances of his position too had early 
contributed to give him an unusual command over 
the modern languages. An Englishman, and taught 
from his cradle to be proud of being an Englishman, 
he first evinced in speaking his native language 
those remarkable powers of expression, and that 
clear and happy elocution, which ever afterwards 
distinguished him. But the son of a Spaniard, the 
sonorous syllables of that noble tongue constantly 
resounded in his ear ; while the foreign guests who 
thronged his father's mansion habituated him from 
an early period of life to the tones of languages that 
were not long strange to him. When he was nine- 
teen, Sidonia, who had then resided sometime with 
his uncle at Naples, and had made a long visit to 
another of his father's relatives at Frankfort, pos- 
sessed a complete mastery over the principal Euro- 
pean languages. 

At seventeen he had parted with Rebello who 
returned to Spain, and Sidonia, under the control of 
his guardians, commenced his travels. He resided 
as we have mentioned some time in Germany, and 
then, having visited Italy, settled at Naples, at which 
city it may be said he made his entrance into life. 
With a very interesting person, and highly accom- 
plished, he availed himself of the gracious atten- 
tions of a Court of which he was principal creditor ; 
and which treating him as a distinguished English 
traveller were enabled perhaps to show him some 
favours that the manners of the country might not 
have permitted them to accord to his Neapolitan 
relatives. Sidonia thus obtained at a very early age 
that experience of refined and luxurious society, . 

261 I 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

which is a necessary part of a finished education. It 
gives the last polish to the manners ; it teaches us 
something of the power of the passions, early de- 
veloped in the hot bed of self-indulgence ; it instils 
into us that indefinable tact seldom obtained in later 
life, which prevents us from saying the wrong thing, 
and often impels us to do the right. 

Between Paris and Naples Sidonia passed two 
years, spent apparently in the dissipation which was 
perhaps inseparable from his time of life. He was 
admired by women, to whom he was magnificent, 
idolized by artists whom he patronized, received in 
all circles with great distinction, and appreciated for 
his intellect by the very few to whom he at all 
opened himself. For though affable and gracious, 
it was impossible to penetrate him. Though very 
unreserved in his manner, his frankness was strictly 
limited to the surface. He observed everything, 
thought ever, but avoided serious discussion. If 
you pressed him for an opinion, he took refuge in 
raillery, or threw out some grave paradox which it 
was not easy to cope with. 

The moment he came of age, Sidonia, having 
previously, at a great family congress held at Naples, 
made arrangements with the heads of the houses 
that bore his name respecting the disposition and 
management of his vast fortune, quitted Europe. 

Sidonia was absent from his connexions for five 
years, during which period he never communicated 
with them. They were aware of his existence only 
by the orders which he drew on them for payment, 
and which frequently arrived from all quarters of 
the globe. It would appear from these documents 
that he had dwelt a considerable time in the Medi- 
terranean regions ; penetrated Nilotic Africa to Sen- 

262 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 

naar and Abyssinia ; traversed the Asiatic continent 
to Tartary, whence he had visited Hindostan, and 
the isles of that Indian sea which are so little known. 
Afterwards he was heard of at Valparaiso, the Brazils, 
and Lima. He evidently remained some time at 
Mexico, which he quitted for the United States. 
One morning without notice he arrived in London. 

Sidonia had exhausted all the sources of human 
knowledge ; he was master of the learning of every 
nation, of all tongues dead or living, of every litera- 
ture. Western and Oriental. He had pursued the 
speculations of science to their last term, and had 
himself illustrated them by observation and experi- 
ment. He had lived in all orders of society, had 
viewed every combination of Nature and of Art, 
and had observed man under every phasis of civiliza- 
tion. He had even studied him in the wilderness. 
The influence of creeds and laws, manners, customs, 
traditions, in all their diversities, had been sub- 
jected to his personal scrutiny. 

He brought to the study of this vast aggregate 
of knowledge a penetrative intellect, that matured 
by long meditation, and assisted by that absolute 
freedom from prejudice, which was the compensa- 
tory possession of a man without a country, per- 
mitted Sidonia to fathom as it were by intuition, the 
depth of questions apparently the most difficult and 
profound. He possessed the rare faculty of com- 
municating with precision ideas the most abstruse, 
and in general a power of expression which arrests 
and satisfies attention. 

With all this knowledge, which no one knew 
more to prize, with boundless wealth, and with an 
athletic frame, which sickness had never tried, and 
which had avoided excess, Sidonia nevertheless 

263 



CONINGSBY 



Book IV 



/ 



looked upon life with a glance rather of curiosity 
than content. His religion walled him out from 
the pursuits of a citizen ; his riches deprived him of 
the stimulating anxieties of a man. He perceived 
himself a lone being, alike without cares and with- 
out duties. 

To a man in his position there might yet seem one 
unfailing source of felicity and joy ; independent of 
creed, independent of country, independent even of 
character. He might have discovered that perpetual 
spring of happiness in the sensibility of the heart. 
But this was a sealed fountain to Sidonia. In his 
organization there was a peculiarity, perhaps a great 
deficiency. He was a man without affections. It 
would be harsh to say he had no heart, for he was 
susceptible of deep emotions, but not for individuals. 
He was capable of re-building a town that was 
burned down ; of restoring a colony that had been 
destroyed by some awful visitation of nature ; of 
redeeming to liberty a horde of captives ; and of 
doing these great acts in secret ; for void of all self- 
love, public approbation was worthless to him ; but 
the individual never touched him. Woman was to 
him a toy, man a machine. 

The lot the most precious to man, and which a 
beneficent Providence has made not the least com- 
mon ; to find in another heart a perfect and pro- 
found sympathy ; to unite his existence with one 
who could share all his joys, soften all his sorrows, 
aid him in all his projects, respond to all his fancies, 
counsel him in his cares, and support him in his 
perils ; make life charming by her charms, interest- 
ing by her intelligence, and sweet by the vigilant 
variety of her tenderness ; to find your life blessed 
by such an influence, and to feel that your influence 

264 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 

can bless such a life : this lot, the most divine of 
divine gifts, that power and even fame can never 
rival in its delights — all this Nature had denied to 
Sidonia. 

With an imagination as fiery as his native Desart, 
and an intellect as luminous as his native sky, he 
wanted like that land those softening dews without 
which the soil is barren, and the sunbeam as often a 
messenger of pestilence as an angel of regenerative 
grace. 

Such a temperament, though rare, is peculiar to 
the East. It inspired the founders of the great 
monarchies of antiquity, the prophets that the 
Desart has sent forth, the Tartar chiefs who have 
overrun the world ; it might be observed in the 
great Corsican, who, like most of the inhabitants of 
the Mediterranean isles, had probably Arab blood 
in his veins. It is a temperament that befits con- 
querors and legislators, but in ordinary times and 
ordinary situations, entails on its possessor only 
eccentric aberrations or profound melancholy. 

The only human quality that interested Sidonia 
was Intellect. He cared not whence it came ; 
where it was to be found : creed, country, class, 
character, in this respect, were alike indifferent to 
him. The author, the artist, the man of science, 
never appealed to him in vain. Often he anticipated 
their wants and wishes. He encouraged their so- 
ciety ; was as frank in his conversation as he was 
generous in his contributions ; but the instant they 
ceased to be authors, artists, or philosophers, and 
their communications arose from anything but the 
intellectual quality which had originally interested 
him, the moment they were rash enough to approach 
intimacy and appealed to the sympathizing man in- 

265 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

stead of the congenial intelligence, he saw them no 
more. It was not however intellect merely in these 
unquestionable shapes that commanded his notice. 
There was not an adventurer in Europe with whom 
he was not familiar. No Minister of State had such 
communication with secret agents and political spies 
as Sidonia. He held relations with all the clever 
outcasts of the world. The catalogue of his ac- 
quaintance in the shape of Greeks, Armenians, 
Moors, secret Jews, Tartars, Gypsies, wandering 
Poles and Carbonari, would throw a curious light on 
those subterranean agencies of which the world in 
general knows so little, but which exercise so great 
an influence on public events. His extensive travels, 
his knowledge of languages, his daring and adven- 
turous disposition, and his unlimited means, had 
given him opportunities of becoming acquainted 
with these characters, in general so difficult to trace, 
and of gaining their devotion. To these sources 
he owed that knowledge of strange and hidden 
things which often startled those who listened to him. 
Nor was it easy, scarcely possible, to deceive him. 
Information reached him from so many, and such con- 
trary quarters, that with his discrimination and ex- 
perience, he could almost instantly distinguish the 
truth. The secret history of the world was his 
pastime. His great pleasure was to contrast the 
hidden motive, with the public pretext, of trans- 
actions. 

One source of interest Sidonia found in his des- 
cent, and in the fortunes of his race. As firm in 
his adherence to the code of the great Legislator as 
if the trumpet still sounded on Sinai, he might have 
received in the conviction of divine favour an ade- 
quate compensation for human persecution. But 

266 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 



there were other and more terrestrial considerations 
that made Sidonia proud of his origin, and confi- 
dent in the future of his kind. Sidonia was a great 
philosopher, who took comprehensive views of 
human affairs, and surveyed every fact in its relative 
position to other facts, the only mode of obtaining 
truth. 

Sidonia was well aware that in the five great varie- 
ties in which Physiology has divided the human 
species ; to wit, the Caucasian, the Mongolian, the 
Malayan, the American, the Ethiopian ; the Arabian 
tribes rank in the first and superior class, together, 
among others, with the Saxon and the Greek. This 
fact alone is a source of great pride and satisfaction 
to the animal Man. But Sidonia and his brethren 
could claim a distinction which the Saxon and the 
Greek, and the rest of the Caucasian nations, have 
forfeited. The Hebrew is an unmixed race. Doubt- 
less among the tribes who inhabit the bosom of the 
Desart, progenitors alike of the Mosaic and the 
Mahomedan Arabs, blood may be found as pure as 
that of the descendants of the Scheik Abraham. 
But the Mosaic Arabs are the most ancient, if not 
the only, unmixed blood that dv/ells in cities. 

An unmixed race of a first-rate organization are 
the aristocracy of Nature. Such excellence is a posi- 
tive fact ; not an imagination, a ceremony, coined 
by poets, blazoned by cozening heralds, but per- 
ceptible in its physical advantages, and in the vigour 
of its unsullied idiosyncracy. 

In his comprehensive travels, Sidonia had visited 
and examined the Hebrew communities of the world. 
• He had found in general the lower orders debased ; 
the superior immersed in sordid pursuits; but he 
perceived that the intellectual development was not 

267 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

impaired. This gave him hope. He was persuaded 
that organization would outlive persecution. When 
he reflected on what they had endured, it was only 
marvellous that the race had not disappeared. They 
had defied exile, massacre, spoliation, the degrading 
influence of the constant pursuit of gain ; they had 
defied Time. For nearly three thousand years, ac- 
cording to Archbishop Usher, they have been dis- 
persed over the globe. To the unpolluted current 
of their Caucasian structure and to the segregating 
genius of their great Lawgiver, Sidonia ascribed the 
fact that they had not been long ago absorbed 
among those mixed races, who presume to persecute 
them, but who periodically wear away and disappear, 
while their victims still flourish, in all the primeval 
vigour of the pure Asian breed. 

Shortly after his arrival in England, Sidonia re- 
paired to the principal courts of Europe, that he 
might become personally acquainted with the mon- 
archs and ministers of whom he had heard so much. 
His position insured him a distinguished reception ; 
his personal qualities immediately made him cher- 
ished. He could please ; he could do more ; he 
could astonish. He could throw out a careless ob- 
servation which would make the oldest diplomatist 
start ; a winged word that gained him the con- 
sideration, sometimes the confidence, of Sovereigns. 
When he had fathomed the intelligence which 
governs Europe, and which can only be done by 
personal acquaintance, he returned to this country. 

The somewhat hard and literal character of Eng- 
lish life suited one who shrank from sensibility, and 
often took refuge in sarcasm. Its masculine vigour 
and active intelligence occupied and interested his 
mind. Sidonia indeed was exactly the character who 

268 



I 



Chapter X CONINGSBY 

would be welcomed in our circles. His immense 
wealth, his unrivalled social knowledge, his clear 
vigorous intellect, the severe simplicity of his man- 
ners, frank, but never claiming or brooking famili- 
arity, and his devotion to field sports, which was the 
safety-valve of his energy, were all circumstances 
and qualities which the English appreciate and ad- 
mire ; and it may be fairly said of Sidonia that few 
men were more popular, and none less under- 
stood. 

CHAPTER XI 

At dinner Coningsby was seated on the same side 
as Sidonia, and distant from him. There had been 
therefore no mutual recognition. Another guest 
had also arrived, Mr. Ormsby. He came straight 
from London, full of rumours, had seen Tadpole, 
who hearing he was on the wing for Coningsby 
Castle, had taken him into a dark corner of his club, 
and shown him his book, a very safe piece of con- 
fidence as Mr. Ormsby was very near-sighted. It 
was however to be received as an undoubted fact, 
that all was right, and somehow or other, before very 
long, there would be national demonstration of the 
same. This arrival of Mr. Ormsby and the news 
that he bore, gave a political turn to the conversa- 
tion after the ladies had left the room. 

* Tadpole wants me to stand for Birmingham,' 
said Mr. Ormsby, gravely. 

' You ! ' exclaimed Lord Monmouth, and throw- 
ing himself back in his chair, he broke into a real, 
hearty laugh. 

' Yes ; the Conservatives mean to start two can- 
didates ; a manufacturer they have got, and they 

269 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

have written up to Tadpole for a "West-end man.'" 

* A what ?' 

' A West-end man, who will make the ladies pat- 
ronise their fancy articles.' 

* The result of the Reform Bill then,' said Lucian 
Gay, ' will be to give Manchester a bishop, and Bir- 
mingham a dandy.' 

' I begin to believe the result will be very different 
to what we expected,' said Lord Monmouth. 

Mr. Rigby shook his head and was going to pro- 
phesy, when Lord Eskdale, who liked talk to be 
short, and was of opinion that Rigby should keep 
his amplifications for his slashing articles, put in a 
brief careless observation, which baulked his in- 
spiration. 

' Certainly,' said Mr. Ormsby, ' when the guns 
were firing over Vyvyan's last speech and confession, 
I never expected to be asked to stand for Birming- 
ham.' 

' Perhaps you may be called up to the other house 
by the title,' said Lucian Gay. * Who knows ?^ 

' I agree with Tadpole,' said Mr. Ormsby, ' that 
if we only stick to the Registration, the country is 
saved.' 

* Fortunate country!' said Sidonia, * that can be 
\ saved by a good registration!' 

* I believe after all that with property and pluck,' 
said Lord Monmouth, ' Parliamentary Reform is 
not such a very bad thing.' 

Here several gentlemen began talking at the same 
time, all agreeing with their host and proving in 
their different ways, the irresistible influence of pro- 
perty and pluck ; — property in Lord Monmouth's 
mind meaning vassals ; and pluck, a total disregard 
for public opinion. Mr. Guy Flouncey, who 

270 



Chapter XI CONINGSBY 

wanted to get into Parliament, but why nobody 
knew, who had neither political abilities, nor politi- 
cal opinions, but had some floating idea that it 
would get himself and his wife to some more balls 
and dinners, and who was duly ticketed for ' a good 
thing ' in the candidate list of the Tadpoles and the 
Tapers, was of opinion that an immense deal might 
be done by properly patronising borough races, — 
That was his specific how to prevent revolution. 

Taking advantage of a pause. Lord Monmouth 
said, ' I should like to know what you think of this 
question, Sidonia.' 

' I am scarcely a competent judge,' he said as if 
wishing to disclaim any interference in the conver- 
sation, and then added, ' but I have been ever of 
opinion that revolutions are not to be evaded.' 

' Exactly my views,' said Mr. Rigby eagerly, ' I 
say it now, I have said it a thousand times, you may 
doctor the registration as you like, but you can never 
get rid of Schedule A.' 

' Is there a person in this room who can now tell 
us. the names of the boroughs in Schedule A.?' 
said Sidonia. 

* I am sure I cannot,' said Lord Monmouth, 
' though six of them belonged to myself.' 

' But the principle,' said Mr. Rigby, ' they repre- 
sented a principle.' 

' Nothing else certainly,' said Lucian Gay. 

'And what principle.^' inquired Sidonia. 

' The principle of nomination.' 

' That is a practice, not a principle,' said Sidonia. 
* Is it a practice that no longer exists ?'' 

' You think then,' said Lord Eskdale cutting in 
before Rigby, ' that the Reform Bill has done us no 
harm .?' 

271 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

' It is not the Reform Bill that has shaken the 
aristocracy of this country, but the means by which 
that Bill was carried,' replied Sidonia. 

'Physical force?' said Lord Eskdale. 

' Or social power?' said Sidonia. 

Upon this, Mr. Rigby impatient at any one giv- 
ing the tone in a political discussion but himself, 
and chafing under the vigilance of Lord Eskdale 
which to him ever appeared only fortuitous, vio- 
lently assaulted the argument, and astonished several 
country gentlemen present by his volubility. They 
at length listened to real eloquence. At the end of 
a long appeal to Sidonia, that gentleman only bowed 
his head, and said, ' Perhaps ;' and then turning to 
his neighbour inquired whether birds were plentifial 
in Lancashire this season ; so that Mr. Rigby was 
reduced to the necessity of forming the political 
opinions of Mr. Guy Flouncey. 

As the gentlemen left the dining-room, Coningsby 
though at some distance was observed by Sidonia, 
who stopped instantly, then advanced to Coningsby 
and extending his hand said, ' I said we should meet 
again, though I hardly expected so quickly.' 

' And I hope we shall not separate so soon,' said 
Coningsby ; ' I was much struck with what you said 
just now about the Reform Bill. Do you know 
that the more I think, the more I am perplexed by 
what is meant by Representation.' 

* It is a principle of which a limited definition is 
only current in this country,' said Sidonia quitting 
the room with him. * People may be represented 
without periodical elections of neighbours who are 
incapable to maintain their interests, and strangers 
who are unwilling.' 

The entrance of the gentlemen produced the same 
272 



Chapter XI CONINGSBY 

effect on the saloon as sunrise on the world ; uni- 
versal animation, a general though gentle stir. The 
Archduke bowing to every one, devoted himself to 
the daughter of Lady St. Julians, who herself pinned 
Lord Beaumanoir before he could reach Mrs. Guy 
Flouncey. Coningsby instead talked nonsense to 
that lady. Brilliant cavaliers including Mr. Melton, 
addressed a band of beautiful damsels grouped on a 
large ottoman. Everywhere sounded a delicious 
murmur, broken occasionally by a silver-sounding 
laugh not too loud. Sidonia and Lord Eskdale did 
not join the ladies. They stood for a few moments 
in conversation, and then t^hrew themselves on a sofa. 

* Who is that ?'^ asked Sidonia of his companion 
rather earnestly, as Coningsby quitted them. 

' 'Tis the grandson of Monmouth ; young Con- 
ingsby.' 

* Ah ! the new generation then promises. I met 
him once before, by chance ; he interests me.' 

' They tell me he is a lively lad. He is a pro- 
digious favourite here, and I should not be surprised 
if Monmouth made him his heir.' 

* I hope he does not dream of inheritances,' said 
Sidonia. ' 'Tis the most enervating of visions.' 

'Do you admire Lady Augustina St. Julians.^' 
said Mrs. Guy Flouncey to Coningsby. 

* I admire no one except yourself.' 

' Oh ! how very gallant, Mr. Coningsby ! ' 

' When should men be gallant, if not to the bril- 
liant and the beautiful!' said Coningsby. 

' Ah ! you are laughing at me.' 

' No, I am not. I am quite grave.' 

' Your eyes laugh. Now tell me, Mr. Coningsby, 
Lord Henry Sydney is a very great friend of 
yours .f^' 

s ?73 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

' Very.' 

* He is very amiable?' 
' Very.' 

' He does a great deal for the poor at Beaumanoir ? 
A very fine place is it not .^' 
' Very.' 

* As fine as Coningsby .f^' 

' At present with Mrs. Guy Flouncey at Con- 
ingsby, Beaumanoir would have no chance.' 

* Ah ! you laugh at me again ! Now tell me, Mr. 
Coningsby, what do you think we shall do to-night ? 
I look upon you, you know, as the real arbiter of 
our destinies.' 

' You shall decide,' said Coningsby. 

' Mon cher Harry,' said Madame Colonna com- 
ing up ; ' they wish Lucretia to sing, and she will 
not. You must ask her, she cannot refuse you.' 

' I assure you she can,' said Coningsby. 

' Mon cher Harry, your grandpapa did desire me 
to beg you to ask her to sing.' 

So Coningsby unwillingly approached Lucretia 
who was talking with the Russian Ambassador. 

' I am sent upon a fruitless mission,' said Con- 
ingsby looking at her, and catching her glance. 

' What and why.f^' she replied. 

* The mission is to entreat you to do us all a great 
favour ; and the cause of its failure will be, that I 
am the envoy.' 

' If the favour be one to yourself, it is granted ; 
and if you be the envoy, you need never fear failure 
with me.' 

' I must presume then to lead you away,' said Con- 
ingsby bending to the Ambassador. 

* Remember,' said Lucretia as they approached 
the instrument, ' that I am singing to you.' 

274 



I 



Chapter XI CONINGSBY 

' It is impossible ever to forget it,' said Coningsby 
leading her to the piano with great politeness, but 
only with great politeness. 

'Where is Mademoiselle Flora?' she inquired. 

Coningsby found ' La Petite ' crouching as it were 
behind some furniture, and apparently looking over 
some music. She looked up as he approached, and 
a smile stole over her countenance. ' I am come to 
ask a favour,' he said, and he named his request. 

' I will sing,' she replied ; ' but only tell me what 
you like.' 

Coningsby felt the difference between the courtesy 
of the head and the heart, as he contrasted the man- 
ner of Lucretia and Flora. Nothing could be more 
exquisitely gracious than the daughter of Colonna 
was to-night ; Flora, on the contrary, was rather 
agitated and embarrassed ; and did not express her 
readiness with half the facility and the grace of 
Lucretia ; but Flora's arm trembled as Coningsby ^^ 
led her to the piano. 

Meantime Lord Eskdale and Sidonia are in deep 
converse. 

' Hah ! that is a fine note ! ' said Sidonia, and he 
looked round. ' Who is that singing ? Some new 
protegee of Lord Monmouth ?' 

' 'Tis the daughter of the Colonnas,' said Lord 
Eskdale, ' the Princess Lucretia.' 

' Why, she was not at dinner to-day.' 

' No, she was not there.' 

' My favourite voice ; and of all, the rarest to be 
found. When I was a boy, it made me almost in 
love even with Pisaroni.' 

' Well, the Princess is scarcely more lovely. 'Tis 
a pity the plumage is not as beautiful as the note. 
She is plain.' 

275 



CONINGSBY Book IV 



' No ; not plain with that brow.' 

' Well, I rather admire her myself,' said Lord 
Eskdale. ' She has fine points.' 

' Let us approach,' said Sidonia. 

The song ceased. Lord Eskdale advanced, made 
his compliments, and then said, ' You were not at 
dinner to-day.' 

' Why should I be.^" said the Princess. 

' For our sakes, for mine, if not for your own,' 
said Lord Eskdale smiling. * Your absence has 
been remarked, and felt I assure you by others as 
well as myself. There is my friend Sidonia so en- 
raptured with your thrilling tones, that he has 
abruptly closed a conversation which I have been 
long counting on. Do you know Kim? May I 
present him to you ?^ 

And having obtained a consent not often con- 
ceded. Lord Eskdale looked round, and calling Sid- 
onia, he presented his friend to the Princess. 

' You are fond of music. Lord Eskdale tells me?' 
said Lucretia. 

' When it is excellent,' said Sidonia. 

* But that is so rare,' said the Princess. 

* And precious as Paradise,' said Sidonia. ' As 
for indifferent music 'tis Purgatory ; but when it is 
bad, for my part I feel myself — ' 

' Where ?^ said Lord Eskdale. 

' In the last circle of the Inferno,' said Sidonia. m 
Lord Eskdale turned to Flora. ^ 

' And in what circle do you place us who are here ?' 
inquired the Princess of Sidonia. 

^ One too polished for his verse,' replied her com- 
panion. 

' You mean too insipid,' said the Princess, 
wish that life were a little more Dantesque.' 

276 



Chapter XI CONINGSBY 

' There is not less treasure in the world,' said 
Sidonia, ' because we use paper currency ; and there 
is not less passion than of old, though it is bon-ton 
to be tranquil.' 

'Do you think so?' said the Princess inquiringly, 
and then looking round the apartment. ' Have 
these automata indeed souls .f^' 

' Some of them,' said Sidonia. ' As many as 
would have had souls in the fourteenth century.' 

' I thought they were wound up every day,' said 
the Princess. 

' Some are self-impelling,' said Sidonia. 

' And you can tell at a glance.'^' inquired the Prin- 
cess. ' You are one of those who can read human 
nature.'^' 

* 'Tis a book open to all.' 

' But if they cannot read ?^ 

* Those must be your automata.' 

' Lord Monmouth tells me you are a great tra- 
veller.' 

' I have not discovered a new world.' 

* But you have visited it.^' 
' It is getting old.' 

' I would sooner recall the old than discover the 
new,' said the Princess. 

' We have both of us cause,' said Sidonia. ' Our 
names are the names of the Past.' 

' I do not love a world of Utility,' said the Prin- 
cess. 

' You prefer to be celebrated to being comfort- 
able,' said Sidonia. 

' It seems to me that the world is withering under 
routine.' 

' 'Tis the inevitable lot of humanity,' said Sidonia. 
' Man must ever be the slave of routine ; but in old 

277 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

days it was a routine of great thoughts, and now it 
is a routine of little ones.' 

The evening glided on ; the dance succeeded the 
song ; the ladies were fast vanishing ; Coningsby 
himself was meditating a movement, when the young 
Marquess as he passed him said, ' Come to Lucian 
Gay's room ; we are going to smoke a cigar.' 

This was a favourite haunt towards midnight of 
several of the younger members of the party at the 
castle who loved to find relaxation from the decorous 
gravities of polished life in the fumes of tobacco, 
the inspiration of v/hiskey toddy, and the infinite 
amusement of Lucian Gay's conversation and com- 
pany. This was the genial hour when the good 
story gladdened, the pun flashed, and the song 
sparkled with jolly mirth or saucy mimicry. To- 
night, being Coningsby's initiation, there was a 
special general meeting of the Grumpy Club, in 
which everybody was to say the gayest things with 
the gravest face, and every laugh carried a forfeit. 
Lucian was the inimitable president. He told a tale 
for which he was famous, of ' the very respectable 
county family who had been established in the shire 
for several generations, but who (it was a fact) had 
been ever distinguished by the strange and humiliat- 
ing peculiarity of being born with sheep's tails.' 
The remarkable circumstances under which Lucian 
Gay had become acquainted with this fact ; the tra- 
ditionary mysteries by which the family in question 
had succeeded for generations in keeping it secret ; 
the decided measures to which the chief of the 
family had recourse to stop for ever the rumour 
when it first became prevalent ; and finally the 
origin and result of the legend ; were details 
which Lucian Gay with the most rueful countenance 

278 



Chapter XI CONINGSBY 

loved to expend upon the attentive and expanding 
intelligence of a new member of the Grumpy Club. 
Familiar as all present were with the story whose 
stimulus of agonizing risibility they had all in turn 
experienced, it was with extreme difficulty that any 
of them could resist the fatal explosion which was 
to be attended with the dreaded penalty. The Mar- 
quess looked on the table with desperate seriousness, 
an ominous pucker quivering round his lip ; Mr. 
Melton crammed his handkerchief into his mouth 
with one hand, while he lighted the wrong end of a 
cigar with the other ; one youth hung over the back 
of his chair pinching himself like a faquir, while 
another hid his countenance on the table. 

' It was at the Hunt dinner,' continued Lucian 
Gay in an almost solemn tone, ' that an idea for a 
moment was prevalent that Sir Mowbray Cholmon- 
deley Fetherstonehaugh, as the head of the family, 
had resolved to terminate for ever these mysterious 
aspersions on his race that had circulated in the 
county for more than two centuries ; I mean that the 
highly respectable family of the Cholmondeley 
Fetherstonehaughs had the misfortune to be graced 
with that appendage to which I have referred. His 
health being drunk. Sir Mowbray Cholmondeley 
Fetherstonehaugh rose. He was a little unpopular 
at the moment from an ugly story about killing 
foxes, and the guests were not as quiet as orators 
generally desire, so the Honourable Baronet prayed 
particular attention to a matter personal to himself. 
Instantly there was a dead silence — ' but here Con- 
ingsby, who had moved for sometime very restlessly 
on his chair suddenly started up, and struggling for 
a moment against the inward convulsion but in vain, 
stamped against the floor and gave a shout. 

279 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

* A song from Mr. Coningsby,' said the president 
of the Grumpy Club amid a universal and now per- 
missible roar of laughter. 

Coningsby could not sing ; so he was to favour 
them as a substitute with a speech or a sentiment. 
But Lucian Gay always let one oif these penalties 
easily, and indeed was ever ready to fulfil them for 
all. Song, speech, or sentiment, he poured them 
all forth ; nor were pastimes more active wanting. 
He could dance a Tarantalla like a Lazaroni, and 
execute a Cracovienne with all the mincing graces of 
an Opera heroine. 

His powers of mimicry indeed were great and 
versatile. But in nothing was he so happy as in a 
Parliamentary debate. And it was remarkable that, 
though himself a man who on ordinary occasions 
was quite incapable without infinite perplexity of 
publicly expressing his sense of the merest courtesy 
of society, he was not only a master of the style of 
every speaker of distinction in either house, but he 
seemed in his imitative play to appropriate their in- 
tellectual as well as their physical peculiarities, and 
presented you with their mind as well as their man- 
ner. There were several attempts to-night to induce 
Lucian to indulge his guests with a debate, but he 
seemed to avoid the exertion, which was great. As 
the night grew old, however, and every hour he 
grew more lively, he suddenly broke without further 
pressure into the promised diversion ; and Con- 
ingsby listened really with admiration to a discus- 
sion, of which the only fault was that it was more 
Parliamentary than the oric^inal ; ' plus Arabe que 
PArabie.' 

The Duke was never more curt, nor Sir Robert 
more specious ; he was as fiery as Stanley, and as 

280 



Chapter XI CONINGSBY 

acrid as Graham. Nor did he do their opponents 
less justice. Lord Palmerston himself never treated 
a profound subject with a more pleasant volatility ; 
and when Lucian rose at an early hour of morn, in 
a full house alike exhausted and excited, and after 
having endured for hours in sarcastic silence the 
menacing finger of Sir Robert shaking over the 
green table and appealing to his misdeeds in the 
irrevocable records of Hansard, Lord John himself 
could not have^ afforded a more perfect representa- 
tive of pluck. 

But loud as was the laughter, and vehement the 
cheering with which Lucian' s performances were re- 
ceived, all these ebullitions sank into insignificance 
compared with the reception which greeted what he 
himself announced was to be the speech of the night. 
Having quaffed full many a quaigh of toddy, he in- 
sisted on delivering it on the table, a proposition 
with which his auditors immediately closed. 

The orator appeared, the great man of the night, 
who was to answer everybody on both sides. Ah! 
that harsh voice, that arrogant style, that saucy super- 
ficiality which decided on everything, that insolent 
ignorance that contradicted everybody ; it was im- 
possible to mistake them! And Coningsby had the 
pleasure of seeing reproduced before him the guar- 
dian of his youth, and the patron of the mimic — the 
Right Honourable Nicholas Rigby ! 

CHAPTER XII 

Madame Colonna with that vivacious energy which 
characterises the south, had no sooner seen Con- 
ingsby, and heard his praises celebrated by his grand- 
father, than she resolved that an alliance should 

281 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

sooner or later take place between him and her step- 
daughter. She imparted her projects without delay 
to Lucretia, who received them in a very different 
spirit to that in which they were communicated. 
Lucretia bore as little resemblance to her step- 
mother in character, as in person. If she did not 
possess her beauty, she was born with an intellect of 
far greater capacity and reach. She had a deep judg- 
ment. A hasty alliance with a youth, arranged by 
their mutual relatives, might suit very well the clime 
and manners of Italy, but Lucretia was well aware 
that it was altogether opposed to the habits and feel- 
ings of this country. She had no conviction that 
either Coningsby would wish to marry her, or if will- 
ing, that his grandfather would sanction such a step 
in one as yet only on the threshold of the world. 
Lucretia therefore received the suggestions and pro- 
posals of Madame Colonna with great coldness and 
indifference ; one might even say contempt, for she 
neither felt respect for this lady, nor was she sedul- 
ous to evince it. Although really younger than 
Coningsby, Lucretia felt that a woman of eighteen 
is in all worldly considerations, ten years older than 
a youth of the same age. She anticipated that a 
considerable time might elapse before Coningsby 
would feel it necessary to seal his destiny by mar- 
riage, while on the other hand, she was not only 
anxious, but resolved, not to delay on her part her 
emancipation from the galling position in which she 
very frequently found herself. 

Lucretia felt rather than expressed these ideas and 
impressions. She was not naturally communicative, 
and conversed with no one with less frankness and 
facility than with her step-mother. Madame Col- 
onna therefore found no reasons in her conversation 

282 



Chapter Xll CONINGSBY 

with Lucretia to change her determination. As her 
mind was not very ingenious she did not see ques- 
tions in those various lights which make us at the 
same time infirm of purpose and tolerant. What 
she fancied ought to be done, she fancied must be 
done ; for she perceived no middle course or alter- 
native. For the rest, Lucretia's carriage towards 
her gave her little discomfort. Besides she herself 
though good-natured, was obstinate. Her feelings 
were not very acute ; nothing much vexed her. As 
long as she had fine dresses, good dinners, and opera 
boxes, she could bear her plans to be crossed like a 
philosopher ; and her consolation under her unac- 
complished devices was her admirable consistency, 
which always assured her that her projects were wise, 
though unfulfilled. 

She broke her purpose to Mr. Rigby that she 
might gain not only his adhesion to her views, but 
his assistance in achieving them. As Madame Col- 
onna in Mr. Rigby's estimation exercised more in- 
fluence over Lord Monmouth than any other 
individual, faithful to his policy or practice, he agreed 
with all Madame Colonna's plans and wishes, and 
volunteered instantly to further them. As for the 
Prince, his wife never consulted him on any subject, 
nor did he wish to be consulted. On the contrary, 
he had no opinion about anything. All that he re- 
quired was that he should be surrounded by what 
contributed to his personal enjoyment, that he should 
never be troubled, and that he should have billiards. aJI^^ 
He was not inexpert in field-sports,^rode indeed very . ^ 
welLibr an Italian, but he never cared to be out of t*ri" i 
(Joors ; and there was only one room in the interior y^ f^A^ 
which passionately interested him. It was where j^^ 

the echoing balls denoted the sweeping hazard or 

283 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

the effective cannonade. That was the chamber 
where the Prince Colonna literally existed. Half 
an hour after breakfast he was in the billiard room ; 
he never quitted it until he dressed for dinner ; and 
he generally contrived, while the world were amused 
or amusing themselves at the comedy or in the dance, 
to steal down with some congenial sprites to the 
magical and illumined chamber, and use his cue 
until bed-time. 

Faithful to her first impressions, Lucretia had 
made no difference in her demeanour to Coningsby 
to that which she offered to the other guests. Polite, 
but uncommunicative ; ready to answer, but never 
originating conversation ; she charmed him as little 
by her manner as by her person ; and after some at- 
tempts not very painstaking to interest her, Con- 
ingsby had ceased to address her. The day passed 
by with only a faint recognition between them ; even 
that sometimes omitted. 

When however Lucretia observed that Coningsby 
had become one of the most notable persons in the 
castle ; when she heard everywhere of his talents and 
accomplishments, his beauty and grace and great ac- 
quirements, and perceived that he was courted by 
all ; that Lord Monmouth omitted no occasion pub- 
licly to evince towards him his regard and considera- 
tion ; that he seemed generally looked upon in the 
light of his grandfather's heir, and that Lady St. 
Julians, more learned in that respect than any lady 
in the kingdom, was heard more than once to regret 
that she had not brought another daughter with her, 
Clara Isabella as well as Augustina ; the Princess 
Lucretia began to imagine that Madame Colonna 
after all, might not be so extravagant in her purpose, 
as she had first supposed. She therefore surprised 

284 



Chapter XII CONINGSBY 

Coningsby with the almost aiFectionate moroseness 
with which, while she hated to sing, she yet found 
pleasure in singing for him alone. And it is im- 
possible to say what might not have been the next 
move in her tactics in this respect, had not the very 
night on which she had resolved to commence the 
enchantment of Coningsby, introduced to her Sid- 
onia. 

The Princess Lucretia met her fate as she encoun- 
tered the dark still glance of the friend of Lord 
Eskdale. He too beheld a woman unlike other 
women, and with his fine experience both as a man 
and a physiologist felt that he was in the presence of 
no ordinary organization. From the evening of 
his introduction, Sidonia sought the society of the 
Princess Lucretia. He could not complain of her 
reserve. She threw out her mind in various and 
highly cultivated intelligence. He recognised in 
her a deep and subtile spirit, considerable reading for 
a woman, habits of thought, and a soul passionate 
and daring. She resolved to subdue one whose ap- 
preciation she had gained, and who had subdued her. 
The profound meaning and the calm manner of 
Sidonia combined to quell her spirit. She struggled 
against the spell. She tried to rival his power ; to 
cope with him, and with the same weapons. But 
prompt as was her thought and bright as was its 
expresion, her heart beat in tumult ; and with all 
her apparent serenity, her agitated soul was the prey 
of absorbing passion. She could not contend with 
that intelligent, yet inscrutable, eye ; with that man- 
ner so full of interest and respect, and yet so tran- 
quil. Besides they were not on equal terms. Here 
was a girl contending with a man learned in the 
world's way. 

285 



% 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

Between Sidonia and Coningsby there at once 
occurred companionship. The morning after his 
arrival they went out shooting together. After a 
long ramble they would stretch themselves on the 
turf under a shady tree, often by the side of some 
brook where the cresses grow, that added a luxury 
to their sporting meal, and then Coningsby would 
lead the conversation to some subject on which Sid- 
onia would pour out his mind with all that depth of 
reflection, variety of knowledge, and richness of 
illustrative memory, which distinguished him ; and 
which offered so striking a contrast to the sharp 
talent, the shallow information, and the worldly 
cunning that make a Rigby. 

This fellowship between Sidonia and Coningsby 
elevated the latter still more in the estimation of 
Lucretia, and rendered her still more desirous of 
gaining his good will and opinion. A great friend- 
ship seemed to have arisen between them, and the 
world began to believe that there must be some 
foundations for Madame Colonna's inuendoes. That 
lady herself was not in the least alarmed by the 
attention which Sidonia paid her step-daughter. It 
was of course well-known that Sidonia was not a 
marrying man. He was however a great friend of 
Mr. Coningsby, his presence and society brought 
Coningsby and Lucretia more together ; and how- 
ever flattered her daughter might be for the moment 
by Sidonia's homage, still as she would ultimately 
find out, if indeed she ever cared so to do, that 
Sidonia could only be her admirer, Madame Colon na 
had no kind of doubt, that ultimately Coningsby 
would be Lucretia's husband, as she had arranged 
from the first. 

The Princess Lucretia was a fine horse-woman, 
286 



Chapter XII CONINGSBY 

though she rarely joined the various riding-parties 
that were daily formed at the Castle. Often indeed, 
attended only by her groom, she met the equestrians. 
Now she would ride with Sidonia and Coningsby, 
and as a female companion was indispensable, she 
insisted upon * La Petite ' accompanying her. This 
was a fearful trial for Flora, but she encountered it, 
encouraged by the kind solicitude of Coningsby, 
who always seemed her friend. 

Very shortly after the arrival of Sidonia, the 
Archduke and his suite quitted the Castle, which had 
been His Highness's head-quarters during his visit 
to the manufacturing districts ; but no other great 
change in the assembled company occurred for some 
little time. 

CHAPTER XIII 

* You will observe one curious trait,' said Sidonia to 
Coningsby, ' in the history of this country ; the de- 
positary of power is always unpopular, all combine 
against it, always it falls. Power was deposited in 
the great Barons ; the Church using the King for 
its instrument crushed the great Barons. Power 
was deposited in the Church ; the King bribing the 
Parliament plundered the Church. Power was de- 
posited in the King ; the Parliament using the 
People beheaded the King, expelled the King, 
changed the King, and finally, for a King substituted 
an administrative officer. For one hundred and 
fifty years Power has been deposited in the Parlia- 
ment, and for the last sixty or seventy years it has 
been becoming more and more unpopular. In 1830 
it was endeavoured by a reconstruction to regain the 
popular afi^ection ; but in truth, as the Parliament 
fhen only made itself more powerful, it has only 

287 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

become more odious. As we see that the Barons, 
the Church, the King, have in turn devoured each 
other, and that the Parliament, the last devourer, 
remains, it is impossible to resist the impression 
that this body also is doomed to be destroyed, and 
he is a sagacious statesman who may detect in what 
form and in what quarter the great consumer will 
arise.' 

' You take then a dark view of our position .?' 
^ Troubled not dark. I do not ascribe to political 
institutions that paramount influence which it is 
the feeling of this age to attribute to them. The 
Senate that confronted Brennus in the Forum was 
the same body that registered in an after age the 
ribald decrees of a Nero. Trial by jury, for ex- 
ample, is looked upon by all as the Palladium of our 
liberties ; yet a jury at a very recent period of our 
own history, the reign of Charles II., was a tribunal 
as iniquitous as the Inquisition.' And a graver ex- 
pression stole over the countenance of Sidonia as he 
remembered what that Inquisition had operated on 
his own race and his own destiny. * There are 
families in this country,' he continued, ' of both the 
great historical parties, that in the persecution of 
their houses, the murder and proscription of some of 
their most illustrious members, found judges as 
unjust and relentless in an open jury of their 
countrymen, as we did in the conclaves of Madrid 
and Seville.' 

* Where then would you look for hope ?^ 

* In what is more powerful than laws and institu- 
tions, and without which the best laws and the most 
skilful institutions may be a dead letter, or the very 
means of tyranny \ in the national character. It is 
not in the increased feebleness of its institutions that 

388 



Chapter XIII CONINGSBY 

I see the peril of England ; it is in the decline of its 
character as a community.' 

' And yet you could scarcely describe this as an 
age of corruption?' 

' Not of political corruption. But it is an age of 
; jocial di.g2£g ^Si§3^tion, far more dangerous in its con- 
sequences, because far more extensive. You may 
have a corrupt government and a pure community ; 
you may have a corrupt community and a pure ad- 
ministration. Which would you elect .f^' 

' Neither,' said Coningsby ; ' I wish to see a 
people full of faith,^ and a government full of duty.' 

"^ Rely upon it,' said Sidonia, ' that England should 
think more of the community and less of the govern- 
ment.' 

' But tell me, what do you understand by the 
term national character.^' 

' A character is an assemblage of qualities ; the 
character of England should be an assemblage of 
great qualities.' 

' But we cannot deny that the English have great 
virtues.' 

' The civilisation of a thousand years must pro- 
duce great virtues : but we are speaking of the de- 
cline of public virtue, not its existence.' 

* In what then do you trace that decline?' 

* In the fact that the various classes of thisc oun- 
Jxy are arrayed against each other.' 



' But to what do you attribute those reciprocal 
hostilities?' 

' Not entirely, not even principally, to those eco- 
nomical causes of which we hear so much. I look 
upon all such as secondary causes which in a certain 
degree must always exist ; which obtrude them- 
selves in troubled times ; and which at all times it 
T 289 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

is the business of wise statesmen to watch, to regu- 
late, to ameliorate, to modify.' 

' I am speaking to elicit truth, not to maintain 
opinions,' said Coningsby ; * for I have none,' he 
added mournfully. 

' I think,' said Sidonia, ' that there is no error so 
vulgar as to believe that revolutions are occasioned 
by economical causes. They come in, doubtless, 
very often to precipitate a catastrophe ; very rarely 
do they occasion one. I know no period, for ex- 
ample, when physical comfort was more diffused in 
England than in 1640. England had a moderate 
population, a very improved agriculture, a rich com- 
merce ; yet she was on the eve of the greatest and 
most violent changes that she has as yet experi- 
enced.' 

' That was a religious movement.' 

' Admit it ; the cause then was not physical. The 
imagination of England rose against the govern- 
ment. It proves then that when that faculty is astir 
in agnation, it will sacrifice even physical comfort to 
follow its impulses.' 

* Do you think then there is a wild desire for ex- 
tensive political change in the country.'^' 

* Hardly that : England is perplexed at the pre- 
sent moment, not inventive. That will be the next 
phasis in her moral state, and to that I wish to draw 
your thoughts. For myself while I ascribe little in- 
fluence to physical, causes for the production of this 
perplexity, I am still less of opinion that it can be 
removed by any new disposition of political power. 
It would only aggravate the evil. That would be 
recurring to the old error of supposing you can 
necessarily find national content in political institu- 
tions. A political institution is a machine ; the j 

290 



I 



Chapter XIII 



CONINGSBY 



motive power is the national character. With that 
it rests, whether the machine will benefit society, or 
destroy it. Society in this country is perplexed, 
almost paralyzed ; in time it will move, and it will 
devise. How are the elements of the nation to be 
blended again together .^^ In what spirit is that re- 
organisation to take place .^' 

' To know that would be to know every thing.' 

' At least let us free ourselves from the double 
ignorance of the Platonists. Let us not be ignorant 
that we are ignorant.' 

' I have emancipated myself from that darkness 
for a long time,' said Coningsby. ' Long has my 
mind been musing over these thoughts, but to me 
all is still obscurity.' 

' In this country,' said Sidonia, ' since the peace, 
there has been an attempt to advocate a reconstruc- 
tion of society on a purely rational basis. The prin- 
ciple of Utility has been powerfully developed. I 
speak not with lightness of the labours of the 
disciples of that school. I bow to intellect in every 
form : and we should be grateful to any school of 
philosophers even if we disagree with them ; doubly 
grateful in this country, where for so long a period 
our statesmen were in so pitiable an arrear of public 
intelligence. There has been an attempt to recon- 
struct society on a basis of material motives and 
calculations. It has failed. It must ultimately 
have failed under any circumstances ; its failure in 
an ancient and densely peopled kingdom was inevit- 
able. How limited is human reason, the pro- 
foundest inquirers are most conscious. We are not 
indebted to the Reason of man for any of the great 
achievements which are the landmarks of human 
action and human progress. It was not reason that 



I 



2^1 



/I 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

besieged Troy ; it was not reason that sent forth the 
Saracen from the Desart to conquer the world ; that 
inspired the Crusades ; that instituted the Monastic 
orders ; it was not Reason that produced the Jesuits ; 
above all, it was not Reason that created the French 
Revolution. Man is only truly great when he acts 
from the passions ; never irresistible but when he 
appeals to the Imagination. Even Mormon counts 
more votaries than Bentham.' 

' And you think then that as Imagination once 
subdued the State, Imagination may now save it.^' 

' JMan is made to adore and to obey : but if you 
will not command him ; if you give him nothing to 
worship ; he will fashion his own divinities, and tind 
a chieftain in his own passions.' — "^9 

' But where can we find faith in a nation of sec- 
taries .^^ Who can feel loyalty to a Sovereign of 
Downing Street?' 

' I speak of the eternal principles of human 
nature ; you answer me with the passing accidents 
of the hour. Sects rise and sects disappear. Where 
are the Fifth-Monarchy men ? England is governed 
by Downing Street ; once it was governed by Alfred 
and Elizabeth.' 

CHAPTER XIV 

About this time a steeple-chase in the West of Eng- 
land had attracted considerable attention. This sport 
was then of recent introduction in England, and is 
in fact an importation of Irish growth, although it 
has flourished in our soil. A young guardsman who 
was then a guest at the Castle, and who had been in 
garrison in Ireland, had some experience of this p;; 
time in the Kildare country, and he proposed that 
they should have a steeple chase at Coningsby. 

292 



Chapter XIV CONINGSBY 

This was a suggestion very agreeable to the Mar- 
quess of Beaumanoir celebrated for his feats of 
horsemanship, and indeed to most of the guests. 
It was agreed that the race should come off at once, 
before any of the present company, many of whom 
gave symptoms of being on the wing, had quitted 
the Castle. The young guardsman and Mr. Guy 
Flouncey had surveyed the country, and had selected 
a tract which they esteemed very appropriate for the 
scene of action. From a hill of common land you 
looked down upon the valley of Coningsby richly 
cultivated ; deeply ditched and stiffly fenced ; the 
valley was bounded by another rising ground, and 
the scene was admirably calculated to give an exten- 
sive view to a multitude. 

The distance along the valley was to be two miles 
out, and home again ; the starting post being also 
the winning post, and the flags which were placed 
on every fence that the horses were to pass, were to 
be passed on the left hand of the rider both going 
and coming ; so that although the horses had to leap 
the same fences forward and backward, they could 
not come over the same place twice. In the last 
field before they turned, was a brook seventeen feet 
clear from side to side, with good taking off on 
both banks. This was the critical venture. 

Lord Monmouth highly approved the scheme, but 
mentioned that the sweepstakes must be moderate 
and open to the whole county. The neighbourhood 
had a week of preparation, and the entries for the 
Coningsby steeple-chase were numerous. Lord 
Monmouth after a reserve for his own account placed 
his stable at the service of his guests. For himself 
he offered to back his horse, Sir Robert, which was 
to be ridden by his grandson. 

293 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

Now nothing was spoken or thought of at Con- 
ingsby Castle except the coming sport. The ladies 
shared the general excitement. They embroidered 
handkerchiefs, and scarfs, and gloves, with the re- 
spective colours of the rivals, and tried to make 
jockey-caps. Lady St. Julians postponed her in- 
tended departure in consequence. Madame Colonna 
wished that some means could be contrived by which 
they might all win. 

Sidonia with the other competitors had ridden 
over the country, and marked well the points ; he 
glanced rather sharply at the brook, and on his re- 
turn to the castle he sent a despatch for some of his 
stud. 

Coningsby was all anxiety to win. He was proud 
of the confidence of his grandfather in backing him. 
He had a powerful horse and a first-rate fencer, and 
he was resolved himself not to flinch. On the night 
before the race retiring somewhat earlier than usual 
to his chamber, he observed on his dressing-table a 
small packet addressed to his name, and in an un- 
known handwriting. Opening it he found a very 
pretty jockey whip embroidered with his colours of 
pink and white. This was a perplexing circum- 
stance, but he fancied it on the whole a happy omen. 
And who was the donor.? Certainly not the Prin- 
cess Lucretia, for he had observed her fashioning 
some maroon ribands which were the colours of Sid- 
onia. It could scarcely be from Mrs. Guy Flouncey. 
Perhaps Madame Colonna to please — the Marquess ? 
Thinking over this incident he fell asleep. 

The morning before the race Sidonia's horses ar- 
rived. All went to examine them at the stables. 
Among them was an Arab mare. Coningsby recog- 
nised the Daughter of the Star. She was greatly 

294 



Chapter XIV CONINGSBY 

admired for her points ; but Guy Flouncey whis- 
pered to Mr. Melton that she never could do the 
work. 

' But Lord Beaumanoir says he is all for speed 
against strength in these affairs,' said Mr. Melton. 

Guy Flouncey smiled incredulously. 

The night before the race it rained heavily. 

' I take it the country will not be very like the 
desarts of Arabia,' said Mr. Guy Flouncey with a 
knowing look to Mr. Melton, who was noting a bet 
in his memorandum book. 

The morning was very fine, clear and sunny, with 
a soft western breeze. The starting post was about 
three miles from the Castle ; but long before the 
hour, the surrounding hills were covered with 
people ; squire and farmer ; with no lack of their 
wives and daughters ; many a hind in his smock- 
frock, and many an * operative ' from the neighbour- 
ing factories. The * gentlemen riders ' gradually 
arrived. The entries were very numerous, though 
it was understood that not more than a dozen would 
start, and half of these were the guests of Lord 
Monmouth. At half-past one the cortege from the 
Castle arrived, and took up the post which had been 
prepared for them on the summit of the hill. Lord 
Monmouth was very much cheered on his arrival. 
In the carriage with him were Madame Colonna and 
Lady St. Julians. The Princess Lucretia, Lady 
Gaythorpe, Mrs. Guy Flouncey, accompanied by 
Lord Eskdale and other cavaliers, formed a brilliant 
company. There was scarcely a domestic in the 
Castle who was not there. The comedians indeed 
did not care to come, but Villebecque prevailed upon 
Flora to drive with him to the race in a buggy he 
borrowed of the steward. 

295 



CONINGSBY Book IV 



The start was to be at two o'clock. The ' gentle- 
men jockeys ' are mustered. Never were riders 
mounted and appointed in better style. The stewards 
and the clerk of the course attend them to the start- 
ing-post. There they are now assembled. Guy 
Flouncey adjusts his stirrup-leathers ; Mr. Melton 
ties a knot in his bridle. In a few moments, the 
irrevocable monosyllable will be uttered. 

The bugle sounds for them to face about : the 
Clerk of the Course sings out : ' Gentlemen, are 
you all ready .f" No objection made, the word given 
to go, and fifteen riders start in excellent style. 

Prince Colonna, who rode like Prince Rupert, 
took the lead, followed close by a stout yeoman on 
an old white horse of great provincial celebrity, who 
made steady running, and from his appearance and 
action, a dangerous customer. The rest, with two 
exceptions, followed in a cluster at no great distance, 
and in this order they continued with very slight 
variation for the two first miles, though the fences 
were frequent and one or two of them awkward. 
Indeed they appeared more like horses running over 
a course than over a country. The two exceptions 
were Lord Beaumanoir on his horse Sunbeam and 
Sidonia on the Arab. These kept somewhat slightly 
in the rear. 

Almost in this wise they approached the dreaded 
brook. Indeed with the exception of the last two 
riders who were about thirty yards behind, it seemed 
that you might have covered the rest of the field 
with a cloak. They arrived at the brook at the same 
moment ; seventeen feet of water between stronu^ 
sound banks is no holiday work ; but they 
charged with unfaltering intrepidity. But what 
a revolution in their spirited order did thnt 

296 



Chapter XIV CONINGSBY 

instant produce! A masked battery of can- 
nister and grape could not have achieved more 
terrible execution. Coningsby alone clearly 
lighted on the opposing bank ; but for the 
rest of them, it seemed for a moment, that they were 
all in the middle of the brook, one over another, 
splashing, kicking, swearing ; every one trying to 
get out and keep others in. Mr. Melton and the 
stout yeoman regained their saddles and were soon 
again in chace. The Prince lost his horse, and was 
not alone in his misfortune. Mr. Guy Flouncey lay 
on his back with a horse across his diaphragm ; only 
his head above the water, and his mouth full of 
chick-weed and dock leaves. And if help had not 
been at hand, he and several others might have re- 
mained struggling in their watery bed for a con- 
siderable period. In the midst of this turmoil, the 
Marquess and Sidonia at the same moment cleared 
the brook. 

Affairs now became very interesting. All heads 
were now turned to the winning post. Coningsby 
was in front ; Sidonia and the Marquess following ; 
Mr. Melton had gone the wrong side of a flag, and 
the stout yeoman, though close at hand, was already 
trusting much to his spurs. In the extreme distance 
might be detected three or four stragglers. Thus 
they continued until within three fields of the win- 
ning post. A ploughed field finished the old white 
horse ; the yeoman stuck his spurs to the rowels, 
but the only effect of the experiment was, that the 
horse stood stock still. Coningsby, Sidonia, and the 
Marquess were now altogether. The winning post 
is in sight, and a high and strong gate leads to the 
last field. Coningsby gallantly dashed forward and 
sent Sir Robert at the gate, but he had over-esti- 

297 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

mated his horse's powers at this point of the game, 
and a rattling fall was the consequence : however, 
horse and rider were both on the right side, and Con- 
ingsby was in his saddle again, and near at hand. 
It seemed that the Marquess was winning. There 
was only one more fence ; and that the foot people 
had made a breach in by the side of a gate post and 
wide enough, as was said, for a broad wheel waggon 
to travel by. Instead of passing straight over this 
gap. Sunbeam swerved against the gate and threw 
his rider. This was decisive. The Daughter of 
the Star, who was still going beautifully, pulling 
freely, and her jockey sitting still, sprang over the 
gap and went in first, Coningsby on Sir Robert be- 
ing placed second. The distance measured was 
about four miles ; there were thirty-nine leaps and 
it was done under fifteen minutes. 

Lord Monmouth was well content with the 
prowess of his grandson, and his extreme cordiality 
consoled Coningsby under a defeat, which was very 
vexatious. It was some alleviation that he was 
beaten by Sidonia. Madame Colonna even shed 
tears at her young friend's disappointment, and 
mourned it especially for Lucretia, who had said 
nothing, though a flush might be observed on her 
usually pale countenance. Villebecque who had 
betted was so extremely excited by the whole aff^air, 
especially during the last three minutes, that he quite 
forgot his quiet companion, and when he looked 
round he found Flora fainting. 

* You rode well,' said Sidonia to Coningsby ; ' but 
your horse was more strong than swift. After all 
this thing is a race ; and notwithstanding Solomon, 
in a race speed must win.' 



298 



i 



Chapter XV CONINGSBY 



CHAPTER XV 

Notwithstanding the fatigues of the morning, the 
evening was past with great gaiety at the castle. 
The gentlemen all vowed, that far from being incon- 
venienced by their mishaps, they felt, on the whole, 
rather better for them. Mr. Guy Flouncey indeed 
did not seem quite so limber and flexible as usual ; 
and the young guardsman, who had previously dis- 
coursed in an almost alarming style of the perils and 
feats of the Kildare country, had subsided into a 
remarkable reserve. 

Lord Monmouth beckoned to Coningsby to sit 
by him on the sofa, and spoke of his approaching 
University life. He gave his grandson a great deal 
of good advice : told him to avoid drinking, especi- 
ally if he ever chanced to play cards, which he hoped 
he never would ; urged the expediency of never 
borrowing money, and of confining his loans to small 
sums and then only to friends of whom he wished to 
get rid ; most particularly impressed on him never 
to permit his feelings to be engaged by any woman ; 
nobody, he assured Coningsby, despised that weak- 
ness more than women themselves. Indeed feeling 
of any kind did not suit the present age — it was not 
bon ton ; and in some degree always made a man 
ridiculous. Coningsby was always to have before 
him the possible catastrophe of becoming ridicul- 
ous. It was the test of conduct. Lord Mon- 
mouth said ; a fear of becoming ridiculous is the 
best guide in life, and will save a man from all sorts 
of scrapes. For the rest, Coningsby was to appear 
at Cambridge as became Lord Monmouth's favourite 
grandson. His grandfather had opened an account 

299 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

for him with Drummonds on whom he was to draw 
for his very considerable allowance ; and if by any 
chance he found himself in a scrape, no matter of 
what kind, he was to be sure to write to his grand- 
father, who would certainly get him out of it. 

' Your departure is sudden,' said the Princess 
Lucretia in a low deep tone to Sidonia who was sit- 
ting by her side and screened from general observa- 
tion by the waltzers who whirled by. 

* Departures should be sudden.' 

' I do not like departures,' said the Princess. 
' Nor did the Queen of Sheba when she quitted 
Solomon. You know what she did ?^ 
' Tell me.' 

* She wept very much, and let one of the King's 
birds fly into the garden. "You are freed from your 
cage," she said ; " but I am going back to mine." ' 

' But you never weep,' said the Princess. 

* Never.' 

^ And are always free ?' 

' So are men in the Desart.' 

' But your life is not a Desart.' 

* It at least resembles the Desart in one respect — 
it is useless.' 

' The only useless life is woman's.' 

' Yet there have been heroines,' said Sidonia. 

' The Queen of Sheba,' said the Princess smiling. 

* A favourite of mine,' said Sidonia. 

* And why was she a favourite of yours .?' rather 
eagerly inquired Lucretia. 

* Because she thought deeply, talked finely, and 
moved gracefully.' 

' And yet might be a very unfeeling dame at the 
same time,' said the Princess. 

* I never thought of that,' said Sidonia. 

300 



Chapter XV CONINGSBY 

' The heart apparently does not reckon in your 
philosophy.' 

* What we call the heart,' said Sidonia, ' is a ner- 
vous sensation like shyness which gradually disap- 
pears in society. It is fervent in the nursery, strong 
in the domestic circle, tumultuous at school. The 
affections are the children of ignorance ; when the 
horizon of our experience expands, and models 
multiply, love and admiration imperceptibly vanish. 

' I fear the horizon of your experience has very 
greatly expanded. With your opinions, what charm 
can there be in life.^' 

' The sense of existence.' 

' So Sidonia is off to-morrow, Monmouth,' said 
Lord Eskdale. 

* Hah!' said the Marquess. * I must get him to 
breakfast with me before he goes.' 

The party broke up. Coningsby who had heard 
Lord Eskdale announce Sidonia's departure lin- 
gered to express his regret and say, farewell. 

' I cannot sleep,' said Sidonia ; ' and I never smoke 
in Europe. If you are not stiff with your wounds, 
come to my rooms.' 

This invitation was very willingly accepted. 

' I am going to Cambridge in a week,' said Con- 
ingsby. ' I was almost in hopes you might have re- 
mained as long.' 

* I also ; but my letters of this morning demand 
me. If it had not been for our chase, I should have 
quitted immediately. The minister cannot pay the 
interest on the national debt — not an unprecedented 
circumstance, and has applied to us. I never per- 
mit any business of state to be transacted without my 
personal interposition ; and so I must go up to town 
immediately.' 

301 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

* Suppose you don't pay it,' said Coningsby, 
smiling. 

' If I followed my own impulse, I would remain 
here,' said Sidonia. ' Can anything be more absurd 
than that a nation should apply to an individual to 
maintain its credit, and with its credit, its existence 
as an empire and its comfort as a people ; and that 
individual one to whom its laws deny the proudest 
rights of citizenship, the privilege of sitting in its 
senate and of holding land ; for though I have been 
rash enough to buy several estates, my own opinion 
is that by the existing law of England, an English- 
man of Hebrew faith cannot possess the soil.' 

* But surely it would be easy to repeal a law so 
illiberal — ' 

' Oh ! as for illiberality I have no objection to it 
if it be an element of power. Eschew political 
sentimentalism. What I contend is that if you per- 
mit men to accumulate property, and they use that 
permission to a great extent, power is inseparable 
from that property, and it is in the last degree im- 
politic to make it the interest of any powerful class 
to oppose the institutions under which they live. 
The Jews, for example, independent of the capital 
qualities for citizenship which they possess in their 
industry, temperance, and energy and vivacity of 
mind, are a race essentially monarchical, deeply re- 
ligious, and shrinking themselves from converts as 
from a calamity, are ever anxious to see the religious 
systems of the countries in which they live, flourish ; 
yet since your society has become agitated in Eng- 
land and powerful combinations menace your institu- 
tions, you find the once loyal Hebrew invariably 
arrayed in the same ranks as the leveller and the 
latitudinarian, and prepared to support the policy 

302 



Chapter XV CONINGSBY 

which may even endanger his life and property, 
rather than tamely continue under a system which 
seeks to degrade him. The Tories lose an import- 
ant election at a critical moment ; 'tis the Jews come 
forward to vote against them. The Church is 
alarmed at the scheme of a latitudinarian university, 
and learns with relief that funds are not forthcoming 
for its establishment ; a Jew immediately advances 
and endows it. Yet the Jews, Coningsby, are essen- 
tially Tories. Toryism indeed is but copied from 
the mighty prototype which has fashioned Europe. 
And every generation they must become more power- 
ful and more dangerous to the society which is hos- 
tile to them. Do you think that the quiet humdrum 
persecution of a decorous representative of an Eng- 
lish university can crush those who have successively 
baffled the Pharoahs, Nebuchadnezzar, Rome, and 
the Feudal ages.^^ The fact is you cannot destroy a 
pure race of the Caucasian organization. It is a 
physiological fact ; a simple law of nature, which has 
baffled Egyptian and Assyrian Kings, Roman Em- 
perors, and Christian Inquisitors. No penal laws, 
no physical tortures, can effect that a superior race 
should be absorbed in an inferior, or be destroyed by 
it. The mixed persecuting races disappear ; the 
pure persecuted race remains. And at this moment, 
in spite of centuries, of tens of centuries, of degra- 
dation, the Jewish mind exercises a vast influence on 
the affairs of Europe. I speak not of their laws, 
which you still obey ; of their literature, with which 
your minds are saturated ; but of the living Hebrew 
intellect. 

' You never observe a great intellectual movement 
in Europe in which the Jews do not greatly partici- 
pate. The first Jesuits were Jews : that mysterious 

303 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

Russian Diplomacy which so alarms Western Europe 
is organized and principally carried on by Jews ; that 
mighty revolution which is at this moment prepar- 
ing in Germany, and which will be in fact a second 
and greater Reformation, and of which so little is as 
yet known in England, is entirely developing under 
the auspices of Jews, who almost monopolise the 
professorial chairs of Germany. Neander, the 
founder of Spiritual Christianity, and who is Regius 
Professor of Divinity in the University of Berlin, is 
a Jew. Benary, equally famous, and in the same 
University, is a Jew. Wehl, the Arabic Professor 
of Heidelberg, is a Jew. Years ago, when I was in 
Palestine, I met a German student who was accumu- 
lating materials for the History of Christianity, and 
studying the genius of the place ; a modest and 
learned man. It was Wehl; then unknown, since 
become the first Arabic scholar of the day, and the 
author of the life of Mahomet. But for the German 
professors of this race, their name is Legion. I 
think there are more than ten at Berlin alone. 

' 1 told you just now that I was going up to town 
to-morrow, because I always made it a rule to inter- 
pose when affairs of State were on the carpet. 
Otherwise, I never interfere. I hear of peace and 
war in newspapers, but I am never alarmed, except 
when I am informed that the Sovereigns want trea- 
sure ; then I know that monarchs are serious. 

' A few years back we were applied to by Russia. 
Now there has been no friendship between the Court 
of St. Petersburgh and my family. It has Dutch 
connexions which have generally supplied it, and 
our representations in favour of the Polish Plebrews, 
a numerous race, but the most suffering and de- 
graded of all the tribes, has not been very agreeable 

304 



i 



Chapter XV CONINGSBY 

to the Czar. However circumstances drew to an 
approximation between the Romanoffs and the 
Sidonias. I resolved to go myself to St. Peters- 
burgh. I had on my arrival an interview with the 
Russian Minister of Finance, Count Cancrin ; I 
beheld the son of a Lithuanian Jew. The loan was 
connected with the affairs of Spain ; I resolved on 
repairing to Spain from Russia. I travelled without 
intermission. I had an audience immediately on 
my arrival with the Spanish Minister, Senor Men- 
dizabel ; I beheld one like myself, the son of a 
Nuovo Christiano, a Jew of Arragon. In conse- 
quence of what transpired at Madrid, I went straight 
to Paris to consult the President of the French Coun- 
cil ; I beheld the son of a French Jew, a hero, an 
imperial marshal, and very properly so, for who 
should be military heroes if not those who worship 
the Lord of Hosts.?' 

' And is Soult a Hebrew ! ' 

' Yes, and several of the French Marshals, and 
the most famous ; Massena for example ; his real 
name was Manasseh : but to my anecdote. The 
consequence of our consultations was that some 
Northern power should be applied to in a friendly 
and mediative capacity. We fixed on Prussia, and 
the President of the Council made an application to 
the Prussian Minister, who attended a few days after 
our conference. Count Arnim entered the cabinet, 
and I beheld a Prussian Jew. So you see, my dear 
Coningsby, that the world is governed by very 
different personages to what is imagined by those 
who are not behind the scenes.' 

' You startle, and deeply interest me.' 

* You must study physiology, my dear child. 
Pure races of Caucasus may be persecuted, but they 
u 305 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

cannot be despised, except by the brutal ignorance of 
some mongrel breed, that brandishes faggots and 
howls exterminations, but is itself exterminated 
without persecutions by that irresistible law of 
nature which is fatal to curs.' 

' But I come also from Caucasus,' said Coningsby. 

' Verily ; and thank your Creator for such a des- 
tiny : and your race is sufficiently pure. You come 
from the shores of the Northern Sea, land of the 
blue eye, and the golden hair, and the frank brow ; 
'tis a famous breed, with whom we Arabs have con- 
tended long ; from whom we have much suffered ; 
but these Goths, and Saxons, and Normans, were 
doubtless great men.' 

' But so favoured by Nature, why has not your 
race produced great poets, great orators, great 
writers .f^' 

' Favoured by Nature and by Nature's God we 
produced the lyre of David ; we gave you Isaiah 
and Ezekiel ; they are our Olynthians, our Phil- 
lippics. Favoured by Nature we still remain : but 
in exact proportion as we have been favoured by 
Nature we have been persecuted by Man. After a 
thousand struggles ; after acts of heroic courage 
that Rome has never equalled ; deeds of divine 
patriotism that Athens, and Sparta, and Carthage 
have never excelled ; we have endured fifteen hun- 
dred years of supernatural slavery, during which, 
every device that can degrade or destroy man has 
been the destiny that we have sustained and baffled. 
The Hebrew child has entered adolescence only to 
learn that he was the Pariah of that ungrateful 
Europe that owes to him the best part of its laws, a 
fine portion of its literature, all its religion. Great 
poets require a public ; we have been content with 

306 



I 



Chapter XV CONINGSBY 

the immortal melodies that we sung more than two 
thousand years ago by the waters of Babylon and 
wept. They record our triumphs ; they solace our 
affliction. Great orators are the creatures of popular 
assemblies ; we were permitted only by stealth to 
meet even in our temples. And as for great writers 
the catalogue is not blank. What are all the school- 
men, Aquinas himself, to Maimonides ; and as for 
modern philosophy, all springs from Spinoza. 

' But the passionate and creative genius that is 
the nearest link to divinity, and which no human 
tyranny can destroy, though it can divert it ; that 
should have stirred the hearts of nations by its in- 
spired sympathy, or governed senates by its burning 
eloquence, has found a medium for its expression, to 
which, in spite of your prejudices and your evil 
passions, you have been obliged to bow. The ear, 
the voice, the fancy teeming with combinations, the 
imagination fervent with picture and emotion, that 
came from Caucasus and which we have preserved 
unpolluted, have endowed us with almost the ex- 
clusive privilege of Music ; that science of harmoni- 
ous sounds which the ancients recognised as most 
divine, and deified in the person of their most 
beautiful creation. I speak not of the past, though 
were I to enter into the history of the lords of 
melody, you would find it the annals of Hebrew 
genius. But at this moment even, musical Europe 
is ours. There is not a company of singers, not an 
orchestra in a single capital, that are not crowded 
with our children under the feigned names which 
they adopt to conciliate the dark aversion which your 
posterity will some day disclaim with shame and dis- 
gust. Almost every great composer, skilled musi- 
cian, almost every voice which ravishes you with its 

307 



CONINGSBY Book IV 



transporting strains, spring from our tribes. The 
catalogue is too vast to enumerate ; too illustrious to 
dwell for a moment on secondary names, however 
eminent. Enough for us that the three great crea- 
tive minds to whose exquisite inventions all nations 
at this moment yield ; Rossini, Meyerbeer, Mendel- 
sohn ; are of Hebrew race : and little do your men 
of fashion, your " muscadins " of Paris and your 
dandies of London, as they thrill into raptures at 
the notes of a Pasta or a Grisi, little do they suspect 
that they are offering their homage to the sweet 
singers of Israeli' 

CHAPTER XVI 

It was the noon of the day on which Sidonia was to 
leave the Castle. The wind was high ; the vast 
white clouds scudded over the blue heaven ; the 
leaves yet green, and tender branches snapped like 
glass, were whirled in eddies from the trees ; the 
grassy sward undulated like the ocean with a thou- 
sand tints and shadows. From the window of the 
music-room Lucretia Colonna gazed on the turbulent 
sky. 

The heaven of her heart too was disturbed. 

She turned from the agitated external world to 
ponder over her inward emotion. She uttered a 
deep sigh. 

Slowly she moved towards her harp ; wildly, 
almost unconsciously, she touched with one hand its 
strings, while her eyes were fixed on the ground. 
An imperfect melody resounded ; yet plaintive and 
passionate. It seemed to attract her soul. She 
raised her head, and then touching the strings with 
both her hands, she poured forth tones of deep, yet 
thrilling power. 

308 



Chapter XVI CONINGSBY 

* I am a stranger in the halls of a stranger ! Ah ! whither 
shall I flee ? 

' To the castle of my fathers in the green mountains ; to the 
palace of my fathers in the ancient city ? 

* There is no flag on the castle of my fathers in the green 
mountains ; silent is the palace of my fathers in the ancient city. 

' Is there no home for the homeless ; can the unloved never 
find love ? 

* Ah ! thou fliest away fleet cloud : — he will leave us swifter 
than thee ! Alas ! cutting wind, thy breath is not as cold as his 
heart ! 

* I am a stranger in the halls of the stranger ! Ah ! whither 
shall I flee ?' 

The door of the music room slowly opened. It 
was Sidonia. His hat was in his hand ; he was evi- 
dently on the point of departure. 

* Those sounds assured me,' he said very calmly, 
but kindly, as he advanced, * that I might find you 
here, on which I scarcely counted, at so early an 
hour.' 

' You are going then .?' said the Princess. 

' My carriage is at the door ; the Marquess has 
delayed me ; I must be in London to-night. I con- 
clude more abruptly than I could have wished one of 
the most agreeable visits I ever made ; and I hope 
you will permit me to express to you how much I 
am indebted to you for a society which those should 
deem themselves fortunate, who can more frequently 
enjoy.' 

He held forth his hand ; she extended hers, cold 
as marble, which he bent over, but did not press to 
his lips. 

' Lord Monmouth talks of remaining here some 
time,.' he observed ; ' but I suppose next year, if not 
this, we shall all meet in some city of the earth.' 

Lucretia bowed, and Sidonia with a graceful rever- 
ence withdrew. 

309 



CONINGSBY Book IV 

The Princess Lucretia stood for some moments 
motionless ; a sound attracted her to the window ; 
she perceived the equipage of Sidonia whirling along 
the winding roads of the park. She watched it till 
it disappeared ; then quitting the window, she threw 
herself into a chair and buried her face in her shawl. 



.310 



BOOK F 



CHAPTER I 



An University life did not bring to Coningsby that 
feeling of emancipation usually experienced by 
freshmen. The contrast between school and college 
life is perhaps under any circumstances less striking 
to the Etonian than to others : he has been prepared 
for becoming his own master by the liberty so wisely 
entrusted to him in his boyhood, and which is in 
general so discreetly exercised. But there were also 
other reasons why Coningsby should have been less 
impressed with the novelty of his life, and have en- 
countered less temptations than commonly are met 
with in the new existence which an University opens 
to youth. In the interval, which had elapsed between 
quitting Eton and going to Cambridge, brief as the 
period may comparatively appear, Coningsby had 
seen much of the world. Three or four months 
indeed may not seem, at the first blush, a course of 
time which can very materially influence the forma- 
tion of character ; but time must not be counted by 
calendars, but by sensations, by thought. Coningsby 
had felt a good deal, reflected more. He had en- 
countered a great number of human beings, offering 
a vast variety of character for his observation. It 
was not merely manners, but even the intellectual and 

311 



CONINGSBY Book V 

moral development of the human mind, which in a 
great degree unconsciously to himself had been 
submitted to his study and his scrutiny. New 
trains of ideas had been opened to him ; his mind 
was teeming with suggestions. The horizon of his 
intelligence had insensibly expanded. He perceived 
that there were other opinions in the world besides 
those to which he had been habituated. The depths 
of his intellect had been stirred. He was a wiser 
man. 

He distinguished three individuals whose ac- 
quaintance had greatly influenced his mind ; Eustace 
Lyle, the elder Millbank, above all, Sidonia. He 
curiously meditated over the fact, that three English 
subjects, one of them a principal landed proprietor, 
another one of the most eminent manufacturers, and 
the third the greatest capitalist in the kingdom, all of 
them men of great intelligence, and doubtless of a 
high probity and conscience, were in their hearts, dis- 
affected with the political constitution of the country. 
Yet unquestionably these were the men among whom 
we ought to seek for some of our first citizens. 
What then was this repulsive quality in those institu- 
tions which we persisted in calling national, and 
which once were so.!^ Here was a great question. 

There was another reason also, why Coningsby 
should feel a little fastidious among his new habits, 
and without being aware of it, a little depressed. 
For three or four months, and for the first time in his 
life, he had passed his time in the continual society of 
refined and charming women. It is an acquaintance 
which when habitual exercises a great influence over 
the tone of the mind, even if it does not produce any 
more violent effects. It refines the taste, quickens 
the perception, and gives, as it were, a grace and 

312 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

flexibility to the intellect. Coningsby in his solitary 
rooms arranging his books, sighed when he recalled 
the Lady Everinghams and the Lady Theresas ; the 
gracious Duchess ; the frank, good-tempered 
Madame Colonna ; that deeply interesting enigma, 
the Princess Lucretia ; and the gentle Flora. He 
thought with disgust of the impending dissipation of 
an University, which could only be an exaggeration 
of their coarse frolics at school. It seemed rather 
vapid this mighty Cambridge over which they had so 
often talked in the playing fields of Eton with such 
anticipations of its vast and absorbing interest. And 
those University honours that once were the great 
object of his aspirations, they did not figure in that 
grandeur with which they once haunted his imagina- 
tion. 

What Coningsby determined to conquer was 
knowledge. He had watched the influence of 
Sidonia in society with an eye of unceasing vigilance. 
Coningsby perceived that all yielded to him ; that 
Lord Monmouth even, who seemed to respect none, 
^ave place to his intelligence; appealed to him, 
listened to him, was guided by him. What was the 
secret of this influence.? Knowledge. On all sub- 
jects his views were prompt and clear, and this not 
more from his native sagacity and reach of view, than 
from the aggregate of facts which rose to guide his 
judgment, and illustrate his meaning from all coun- 
tries and all ages instantly at his command. 

The friends of Coningsby were now hourly arriv- 
ing. It seemed when he met them again, that they 
had all suddenly become men since they had separ- 
ated ; Buckhurst especially. He had been at Paris, 
and returned with his mind very much opened, and 
trowsers made quite in a new style. All his thoughts 

3^3 



CONIxNGSBY Book V 

were how soon he could contrive to get back again ; 
and he told them endless stories of actresses and 
dinners at fashionable cafes. Vere enjoyed Cam- 
bridge most, because he had been staying with his 
family since he quitted Eton. Henry Sydney was 
full of church architecture, national sports, restora- 
tion of the order of the Peasantry, and was to main- 
tain a constant correspondence on these and similar 
subjects with Eustace Lyle. Finally however they 
all fell into a very fair, regular, routine life. They 
all read a little, but not with the enthusiasm which 
they had once projected. Buckhurst drove four-in- 
hand, and they all of them sometimes assisted him ; 
but not immoderately. Their suppers were some- 
times gay, but never outrageous ; and among all of 
them, the school friendship was maintained unbroken, 
and even undisturbed. 

The fame of Coningsby had preceded him at Cam- 
bridge. No man ever went up from whom more was 
expected in every way. The dons awaited a sucking 
member for the University, the undergraduates were 
prepared to welcome a new Alcibiades. He was 
neither : neither a prig nor a profligate ; but a quiet, 
gentleman-like, yet spirited young man, gracious to 
all, but intimate only with his old friends, and giving 
always an impression in his general tone that his soul 
was not absorbed in his University. 

And yet perhaps he might have been coddled into a 
prig, or flattered into a profligate, had it not been for 
the intervening experience which he had gained be- 
tween his school and college life. That had visibly 
impressed upon him what before he had only faintly 
acquired from books, that there was a greater and 
more real world awaiting him, than to be found in 
those bowers of Academus to which youth is apt at 

3'4 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

first to attribute an exaggerated importance. A 
world of action and passion, of power and peril ; a 
world for which a great preparation was indeed neces- 
sary, severe and profound, but not altogether such an 
one as was now offered to him. Yet this want must 
be supplied, and by himself. Coningsby had already 
acquirements sufficiently considerable with some 
formal application to ensure him at all times his 
degree. He was no longer engrossed by the inten- 
tion he once proudly entertained of trying for 
honours, and he chalked out for himself that range 
of reading, which, digested by his thought, should 
furnish him in some degree with that various know- 
ledge of the history of man to which he aspired. 
No, we must not for a moment believe that accident 
could have long diverted the course of a character so 
strong. The same desire that prevented the Castle 
of his grandfather from proving a Castle of Indolence 
to him, that saved him from a too early initiation into 
the seductive distractions of a refined and luxurious 
society, would have preserved Coningsby from the 
puerile profligacy of a college life, or from being that 
idol of private tutors, a young pedant. It was that 
noble ambition, the highest and the best, that must 
be born in the heart and organized in the brain, 
which will not let a man be content unless his intel- 
lectual power is recognised by his race, and desires 
that it should contribute to their welfare. It is the 
heroic feeling ; the feeling that in old days produced 
demi-gods ; without which no State is safe ; without 
which political institutions are meat without salt ; the 
Crown a bauble, the Church an establishment, Parlia- 
ments debating clubs, and Civilization itself but a 
fitful and transient dream. 



315 



CONINGSBY Book V 



CHAPTER II 

Less than a year after the arrival of Coningsby at 
Cambridge, and which he had only once quitted in 
the interval, and that to pass a short time in Berk- 
shire with his friend Buckhurst, occurred the death of 
King William IV. This event necessarily induced a 
dissolution of the Parliament elected under the 
auspices of Sir Robert Peel in 1834, and after the 
publication of the Tamworth manifesto. 

The death of the King was a great blow to what 
had now become to be generally styled the * Con- 
servative Cause.' It was quite unexpected ; within a 
fortnight of his death eminent persons still believed 
that * it was only the hay fever.' Had his Majesty 
lived until after the then impending Registration, 
the Whigs would have been again dismissed. Nor is 
there any doubt that under these circumstances the 
' Conservative Cause ' would have secured for the 
new ministers a Parliamentary majority. What 
would have been the consequences to the country if 
the four years of Whig rule from 1837 to 1841 had 
not occurred ? It is easier to decide what would have 
been the consequences to the Whigs. Some of their 
great friends might have lacked blue ribbons and 
Lord Lieutenancies ; and some of their little friends 
comfortable places in the Customs and Excise. They 
would have lost undoubtedly the distributions of 
four years patronage ; we can hardly say the exercise 
of four years power; but they would have existed 
at this moment as the most powerful and popular 
opposition that ever flourished in this country, if 
indeed the course of events had not long ere this 
carried them back to their old posts in a proud and 

316 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

intelligible position. The Reform Bill did not do 
more injury to the Tories than the attempt to govern 
this country without a decided Parliamentary majority 
did the Whigs. The greatest of all evils is a weak 
government. They cannot carry good measures, 
they are forced to carry bad ones. 

The death of the King was a great blow to the 

* Conservative Cause ;' that is to say, it darkened the 
brow of Tadpole, quailed the heart of Taper, crushed 
all the rising hopes of those numerous statesmen who 
believe the country must be saved if they receive 
twelve hundred a year. It is a peculiar class, that ; 
;^ 1,200 per annum, paid quarterly, is their idea of 
political science and human nature. To receive 
;^i,2oo per annum is government ; to try to receive 
;^ 1,200 per annum is opposition ; to wish to receive 
;^ 1,200 per annum is ambition. If a man wants to 
get into Parliament, and does not want to get ;^ 1,200 
per annum, they look upon him as daft ; as a be- 
nighted being. They stare in each other's face and 
ask, * What can * * * * want to get into 
Parliament for.^^ ' They have no conception that 
public reputation is a motive power, and with many 
men the greatest. They have as much idea of fame 
or celebrity, even of the masculine impulse of an 
honourable pride, as eunuchs of manly joys. 

The twelve-hundred-a-yearers were in despair 
about the King's death. Their loyal souls were sorely 
grieved that his gracious Majesty had not outlived 
the registration. All their happy inventions about 

* hay-fever,' circulated in confidence and sent by post 
to chairmen of conservative associations, followed by 
a royal funeral ! General election about to take place 
with the old registration ; government boroughs 
against them, and the young Queen for a cry. What 

317 



CONINGSBY Book V 

a cry ! Youth, beauty, and a Queen ! Taper grew 
pale at the thought. What could they possibly get 
up to countervail it ? Even Church and Corn Laws 
together, would not do ; and then Church was sulky, 
for ' the Conservative Cause ' had just made it a pre- 
sent of a Commission, and all that the country gentle- 
men knew of Conservativism was that it would not 
repeal the malt tax, and had made them repeal their 
pledges. Yet a cry must be found. A dissolution 
without a cry, in the Taper philosophy, would be a 
world without a sun. A rise might be got by * In- 
dependence of the House of Lords ;' and Lord 
Lyndhurst's summaries might be well circulated at 
one penny per hundred, large discount allowed to 
Conservative Associations and endless credit. Tad- 
pole however was never very fond of the House of 
Lords ; besides it was too limited. Tadpole wanted 
the young Queen brought in ; the rogue ! At 
length one morning. Taper came up to him with a 
slip of paper and a smile of complacent austerity on 
his dull visage, ' I think Mr. Tadpole that will do.' 

Tadpole took the paper and read ' Our young 
Queen, and our old Institutions!' 

The eyes of Tadpole sparkled as if they had met a 
gnomic sentence of Pcriander or Thales ; then turn- 
ing to Taper, he said, 

' What do you think of " ancient," instead of 
" old " .?' 

* You cannot have " Our modern Queen, and our 
ancient Institutions," ' said Mr. Taper. 

The dissolution was soon followed by an election 
for the borough of Cambridge. The * Conservative 
Cause ' candidate was an old Etonian. That was a 
bond of sympathy which imparted zeal even to those 
who were a little sceptical of the essential virtues of 

318 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

Conservativism. Every under-graduate especially 
who remembered * the distant spires,' became enthusi- 
astic. Buckhurst took a very decided part. He 
cheered, he canvassed, he brought men to the poll 
whom none could move ; he influenced his friends 
and his companions. Even Coningsby caught the 
contagion, and Vere, who had imbibed much of 
Coningsby's political sentiment, prevailed on himself 
to be neutral. The Conservative Cause triumphed 
in the person of its Eton champion. The day the 
member was chaired, several men in Coningsby's 
rooms were talking over their triumph. 

' By Jove,' said the panting Buckhurst, throwing 
himself on the sofa, * it was well done ; never was 
anything better done. An immense triumph ! The 
greatest triumph the Conservative Cause has had. 
And yet,' he added, laughing, * if any fellow were to 
ask me what the Conservative Cause was, I am sure 
I should not know what to say.' 

' Why it's the cause of our glorious institutions,' 
said Coningsby. ' A Crown robbed of its preroga- 
tives ; a Church controlled by a commission ; and 
an Aristocracy that does not lead.' 

' Under whose genial influence, the order of the 
Peasantry, " a country's pride," has vanished from 
the face of the land,' said Henry Sydney, * and is 
succeeded by a race of serfs, who are called labourers 
and who burn ricks.' 

' Under which,' continued Coningsby, ' the crown 
has become a cipher ; the church a sect ; the nobility 
drones ; and the people drudges.' 

* It is the great constitutional cause,' said Lord 
Vere, ' that refuses everything to opposition ; yields 
everything to agitation : conservative in Parliament, 
destructive out of doors ; that has no objection to 

3^9 



CONINGSBY Book V 

any change provided only it be effected by un- 
authorized means.' 

' The first public association of men,' said Con- 
ingsby, ' who have worked for an avowed end, with- 
out enunciating a single principle.' 

' And who have established political infidelity 
throughout the land,' said Lord Henry. 
*^ ' By Jove ! ' said Buckhurst, ' what infernal fools 
we have made ourselves this last week!' 

' Nay,' said Coningsby, smiling, ' it was our last 
schoolboy weakness. Floreat Etona, under all cir- 
cumstances.' 

* I certainly, Coningsby,' said Lord Vere, ' shall 
not assume the Conservative Cause, instead of the 
Cause for which Hampden died in the field, and 
Sydney on the scaffold.' 

' The cause for which Hampden died in the field, 
and Sydney on the scaffold,' said Coningsby, ' was the 
cause of the Venetian Republic' 

* How — how.f^' said Buckhurst. 

' I repeat it,' said Coningsby. ' The great object 
of the Whig leaders in England from the first move- 
ment under Hampden to the last more successful one 
in 1688, was to establish in England a high aristo- 
cratic republic on the model of the Venetian, then the 
study and admiration of all speculative politicians. 
Read Harrington ; turn over Algernon Sydney ; and 
you will see how the minds of the English leaders in 
the seventeenth century were saturated with the 
Venetian type. And they at length succeeded. 
William III. found them out in an instant. He told 
the Whig leaders " I will not be a Doge." He 
balanced parties ; he baffled them as the Puritans 
baffled them fifty years before. The reign of Anne 
was a struggle between the Venetian and the English 

320 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

systems. Two great Whig nobles, Argyle and 
Shrewsbury, worthy of seats in the Council of Ten, 
forced their Sovereign on her death-bed to change 
the ministry. They accomplished their object. 
They brought in a new family on their own terms. 
George I. was a Doge ; George II. was a Doge ; they 
were what William III., a great man, would not be. 
George III. tried not to be a Doge, but it was impos- 
sible materially to resist the deeply laid combination. 
He might get rid of the Whig magnificoes, but he 
could not rid himself of the Venetian constitution. 
And a Venetian constitution did govern England 
from the accession of the House of Hanover until 
1832. Now I do not ask you, Vere, to relinquish 
the political tenets which in ordinary times would 
have been your inheritance. All I say is, the consti- 
tution introduced by your ancestors having been sub- 
verted by their descendants your contemporaries, be- 
ware of still holding Venetian principles of govern- 
ment when you have not a Venetian constitution to 
govern with. Do what I am doing, what Henry 
Sydney and Buckhurst are doing, what other men 
that I could mention are doing, hold yourself aloof 
from political parties which, from the necessity of 
things, have ceased to have distinctive principles, and 
are therefore practically only factions ; and wait and 
see, whether with patience, energy, honour, and 
Christian faith, and a desire to look to the national 
welfare and not to sectional and limited interests ; 
whether, I say, we may not discover some great prin- 
ciples to guide us, to which we may adhere, and which 
then, if true, will ultimately guide and control 
others.' 

' The Whigs are worn out,' said Vere, * Conserva- 
tivism is a sham, and Radicalism is pollution.' 
X 321 



CONINGSBY Book V 

* I certainly,' said Buckhurst, * when I get into the 
House of Commons, shall speak my mind without 
reference to any party whatever ; and all I hope is, we 
may all come in at the same time, and then we may 
make a party of our own.' 

' I have always heard my father say,' said Vere, 
* that there was nothing so difficult as to organize an 
independent party in the House of Commons.' 

' Ay ! but that was in the Venetian period, Vere,' 
said Henry Sydney smiling. 

' I dare say,' said Buckhurst, * the only way to 
make a party in the House of Commons is just the 
one that succeeds anywhere else. Men must associ- 
ate together. When you are living in the same set, 
dining together every day, and quizzing the Dons, it 
is astonishing how well men agree. As for me, I 
never would enter into a conspiracy, unless the con- 
spirators were fellows who had been at Eton with 
me ; and then there would be no treachery.' 

' Let us think of principles, and not of parties,' 
said Coningsby. ^ 

* For my part,' said Buckhurst, ' whenever a 
political system is breaking up, as in this country at 
present, I think the very best thing is to brush all the 
old Dons off the stage. They never take to the new 
road kindly. They are always hampered by their 
exploded prejudices and obsolete traditions. I don't 
think a single man, Vere, that sat in the Venetian 
Senate ought to be allowed to sit in the present Eng- 
lish House of Commons.' 

* Well no one does in our family except my uncle 
Philip,' said Lord Henry ; * and the moment I want 
it, he will resign ; for he detests Parliament. It in- 
terferes so with his hunting.' 

* Well, we have all fair parliamentary prospects,' 

322 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

said Buckhurst. * That is something. I wish we 
were in now.' 

' Heaven forbid,' said Coningsby. ' I tremble at 
the responsibility of a seat at any time. With my 
present unsettled and perplexed views, there is no- 
thing from which I should recoil so much as the 
House of Commons.' 

' I quite agree with you,' said Henry Sydney. 
* The best thing we can do is to keep as clear of 
political party as we possibly can. How many men 
waste the best part of their lives in painfully apolo- 
gising for a conscientious deviation from a parlia- 
mentary course which they adopted when they were 
boys, without thought, or prompted by some local 
connexion or interest to secure a seat.' 

It was the midnight following the morning when 
this conversation took place, that Coningsby alone, 
and having just quitted a rather boisterous party of 
wassailers who had been celebrating at Buckhurst's 
rooms the triumph of * Eton Statesmen,' if not of 
Conservative principles, stopped in the precincts of 
that Royal College, that reminded him of his school- 
days, to cool his brow in the summer air, that even 
at that hour was soft, and to calm his mind in the 
contemplation of the still, the sacred, and the beaute- 
ous scene that surrounded him. 

There rose that fane, the pride and boast of Cam- 
bridge, not unworthy to rank among the chief 
temples of Christendom. Its vast form was exag- 
gerated in the uncertain hour ; part shrouded in the 
deepest darkness, while a flood of silver light suf- 
fused its southern side, distinguished with revealing 
beam the huge ribs of its buttresses, and bathed with 
mild lustre its airy pinnacles. 

'Where is the spirit that raised these walls.'*' 

323 



CONINGSBY Book V 

thought Conuigsby. ' Is it indeed extinct ? Is then 
this civilization, so much vaunted, inseparable from 
moderate feelings and little thoughts? If so, give 
me back barbarism ! But I cannot believe it. Man 
that is made in the image of the Creator, is made for 
God-like deeds. Come what come may, I will cling 
to the heroic principle. It can alone satisfy my 
soul.' 

CHAPTER III 

We must now revert to the family, or rather the 
household of Lord Monmouth, in which considerable 
changes and events had occurred since the visit of 
Coningsby to the Castle in the preceding autumn. 

In the first place, the earliest frost of the winter 
had carried off the aged proprietor of Hellingsley, 
that contiguous estate which Lord Monmouth so 
much coveted, the possession of which was indeed 
one of the few objects of his life, and to secure which, 
he was prepared to pay far beyond its intrinsic value, 
great as that undoubtedly was. Yet Lord Mon- 
mouth did not become its possessor. Long as his 
mind had been intent upon the subject, skilful as had 
been his combinations to secure his prey, and un- 
limited the means which were to achieve his purpose, 
another stepped in, and without his privity, without 
even the consolation of a struggle, stole away the 
prize ; and this too a man whom he hated, almost the 
only individual out of his own family that he did 
hate ; a man who had crossed him before in similar 
enterprises ; who was his avowed foe ; had lavished 
treasure to oppose him in elections ; raised associa- 
tions against his interest ; established journals to 
assail him ; denounced him in public ; agitated 
against him in private ; had declared more than once 

324 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

that he would make ' the county too hot for him ;' 
his personal, inveterate, indomitable foe, Mr. Mill- 
bank of Millbank. 

The loss of Hellingsley was a bitter disappoint- 
ment to Lord Monmouth ; but the loss of it to such 
an adversary touched him to the quick. He did not 
seek to control his anger ; he could not succeed even 
in concealing his agitation. He threw upon Rigby 
that glance so rare with him, but under which men 
always quailed ; that play of the eye which Lord 
Monmouth shared in common with Henry VIII. that 
struck awe into the trembling Commons when they 
had given an obnoxious vote, as the King entered the 
gallery of his palace, and looked around him. 

It was a look which implied the dreadful question : 
' Why have I bought you that such things should 
happen .-^ Why have I unlimited means and un- 
scrupulous agents ?'^ It made even Rigby feel ; even 
his brazen tones were hushed. 

To fly from everything disagreeable was the prac- 
tical philosophy of Lord Monmouth ; but he was as 
brave as he was sensual. He would not shrink be- 
fore the new proprietor of Hellingsley. He there- 
fore remained at the castle with an aching heart, and 
redoubled his hospitalities. An ordinary mind might 
have been soothed by the unceasing consideration and 
the skilful and delicate flattery that ever surrounded 
Lord Monmouth ; but his sagacious intelligence was 
never for a moment the dupe of his vanity. He had 
no self-love, and as he valued no one, there were 
really no feelings to play upon. He saw through 
everybody and everything; and when he had de- 
tected their purpose, discovered their weakness or their 
vileness, he calculated whether they could contribute 
to his pleasure or his convenience in a degree which 

325 



CONINGSBY Book V 

counterbalanced the objections which might be urged 
against their intentions, or their less pleasing and pro- 
fitable qualities. To be pleased was always a prin- 
cipal object with Lord Monmouth ; but when a man 
wants vengeance, gay amusement is not exactly a 
satisfactory substitute. 

A month elapsed, Lord Monmouth with a serene 
or smiling visage to his guests, but in private taci- 
turn and morose. He scarcely ever gave a word to 
Mr. Rigby, but continually bestowed on him glances 
which painfully affected the appetite of that gentle- 
man. In a hundred ways it was intimated to Mr. 
Rigby that he was not a welcome guest, and yet 
something was continually given him to do which 
rendered it impossible for him to take his departure. 
In this state of affairs, another event occurred which 
changed the current of feeling, and by its possible 
consequences, distracted the Marquess from his 
brooding meditations over his discomfiture in the 
matter of Hellingsley. The Prince Colonna, who, 
since the steeple-chase, had imbibed a morbid pre- 
dilection for such amusements, and indeed for every 
species of rough riding, was thrown from his horse 
and killed on the spot. 

This calamity broke up the party at Coningsby, 
which was not at the moment very numerous. Mr. 
Rigby, by command, instantly seized the opportunity 
of preventing other guests who were expected from 
arriving. This catastrophe was the cause of Mr. 
Rigby resuming in a great measure his old position in 
the castle. There were a great many things to be 
done, and all disagreeable ; he achieved them all, and 
studied everybody's convenience. Coroner's in- 
quests, funerals especially, weeping women, thes^ 
were all spectacles which Lord Monmouth could nc 

326 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

endure, but he was so high-bred, that he would not 
for the world that there should be in manner or de- 
gree the slightest deficiency of propriety or even sym- 
pathy. But he wanted somebody to do everything 
that was proper ; to be considerate and consoling and 
sympathetic. Mr. Rigby did it all ; gave evidence 
at the inquest, was chief mourner at the funeral, and 
arranged everything so well that not a single emblem 
of death crossed the sight of Lord Monmouth ; while 
Madame Colonna found submission in his exhorta- 
tions, and the Princess Lucretia, a little more pale and 
pensive than usual, listened with tranquillity to his 
discourse on the vanity of all sublunary things. 

When the tumult had subsided, and habits and 
feelings had fallen into their old routine, and relapsed 
into their ancient channels, the Marquess proposed 
that they should all return to London, and with great 
formality, though with great warmth, begged that 
Madame Colonna would ever consider his roof as her 
own. All were glad to quit the castle, which now 
presented a scene so different to its former anima- 
tion, and Madame Colonna, weeping, accepted the 
hospitality of her friend, until the impending expan- 
sion of the spring would permit her to return to Italy. 
This notice of her return to her own country seemed 
to occasion the Marquess great disquietude. 

After they had remained about a month in Lon- 
don, Madame Colonna sent for Mr. Rigby one morn- 
ing to tell him how very painful it was to her feelings 
to remain under the roof of Monmouth House with- 
out the sanction of a husband ; that the circumstance 
of being a foreigner, under such unusual affliction, 
might have excused, though not authorized, the step 
at first, and for a moment ; but that the continuance 
of such a course was quite out of the question ; that 

327 



CONINGSBY Book V 

she owed it to herself, to her step-child, no longer to 
trespass on this friendly hospitality ; that if persisted 
in, might be liable to misconstruction. Mr. Rigby 
listened with great attention to this statement, and 
never in the least interrupted Madame Colonna ; and 
then offered to do that which he was convinced the 
lady desired, namely to make the Marquess ac- 
quainted with the painful state of her feelings. This 
he did according to his fashion, and with sufficient 
dexterity. Mr. Rigby himself was extremely 
anxious to know which way the wind blew, and the 
mission with which he had been entrusted, fell in 
precisely with his inclinations and necessities. The 
Marquess listened to the communication and sighed, 
then turned gently round and surveyed himself in the 
mirror and sighed again, then said to Rigby : 

' You understand exactly what I mean, Rigby. 
It is quite ridiculous their going, and infinitely dis- 
tressing to me. They must stay.' 

Rigby repaired to the Princess full of mysterious 
bustle, and with a face beaming with importance and 
satisfaction. He made much of the two sighs ; fully 
justified the confidence of the Marquess in his com- 
prehension of unexplained intentions ; prevailed on 
Madame Colonna to have some regard for the feel- 
ings of one so devoted ; expatiated on the insigni- 
ficance of worldly misconstructions, when replied to 
by such honourable intentions ; and fully succeeded 
in his mission. They did stay. Month after month 
rolled on, and still they stayed ; every month all the 
family becoming more resigned or more content, and 
more cheerful. As for the Marquess himself, Mr. 
Rigby never remembered him more serene and even 
joyous. His Lordship scarcely ever entered general 
society. The Colonna family remained in strict 

328 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

seclusion ; and he preferred the company of these 
accompHshed and congenial friends to the mob of the 
great world. 

Between Madame Colonna and Mr. Rigby there 
had always subsisted considerable confidence. Now, 
that gentleman seemed to have achieved fresh and 
greater claims to her regard. In the pleasure with 
which he looked forward to her approaching alliance 
with his patron, he reminded her of the readiness 
with which he had embraced her suggestions for the 
marriage of her daughter with Coningsby. Always 
obliging, she was never wearied of chaunting his 
praises to her noble admirer, who was apparently 
much gratified she should have bestowed her esteem 
on one of whom she would necessarily in after life see 
so much. It is seldom the lot of husbands that 
their confidential friends gain the regards of their 
brides. 

* I am delighted you all like Rigby,' said Lord 
Monmouth, * as you will see so much of him.' 

The remembrance of the Hellingsley failure 
seemed to be quite erased from the memory of the 
Marquess. Rigby never recollected him more cor- 
dial and confidential, and more equable in his manner. 
He told Rigby one day, that he wished that Mon- 
mouth House should possess the most sumptuous and 
the most fanciful boudoir in London or Paris. What 
a hint for Rigby! That gentleman consulted the 
first artists, and gave them some hints in return ; his 
researches on domestic decoration ranged through all 
ages ; he even meditated a rapid tour to mature his 
inventions ; but his confidence in his native taste and 
genius, ultimately convinced him that this movement 
was unnecessary. 

The summer advanced ; the death of the King 
329 



CONINGSBY Book V 

occurred ; the dissolution summoned Rigby to Con- 
ingsby and the borough of Darlford. His success 
was marked certain in the secret books of Tadpole 
and Taper. A manufacturing town, enfranchised 
under the Reform Act, already gained by the Con- 
servative cause ! Here was reaction — here influence 
of property ! Influence of character, too ; for no 
one was so popular as Lord Monmouth ; a most dis- 
tinguished nobleman, of strict Conservative prin- 
ciples, who, if he carried the county and the manufac- 
turing borough also, merited the strawberry-leaf. 
* There will be no holding Rigby,' said Taper ; 

* I'm afraid he will be looking for something very 
high.' 

' The higher the better,' rejoined Tadpole, ' and 
then he will not interfere with us. I like your high- 
fliers ; it is your plodders I detest, wearing old hats 
and high-lows, speaking in committee, and thinking 
they are men of business : d — n them ! ' 

Rigby went down, and made some very impressive 
speeches ; at least they read very well in some of his 
second-rate journals, where all the uproar figured as 
loud cheering, and the interruption of a cabbage-stalk 
was represented as a question from some intelligent 
individual in the crowd. The fact is, Rigby bored 
his audience too much with history, especially with 
the French Revolution, which he fancied was his 

* forte,' so that the people at last, whenever he made 
any allusion to the subject, were almost as much terri- 
fied as if they had seen the guillotine. 

Rigby had as yet one great advantage ; he had no 
opponent ; and without personal opposition, no con- 
test can be very bitter. It was for some days Rigby 
versus Liberal principles ; and Rigby had much the 
best of it ; for he abused Liberal principles roundly 

330 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

in his harangues, who not being represented on the 
occasion made no reply ; while plenty of ale, and 
some capital songs by Lucian Gay, who went down 
express, gave the right cue to the mob, who declared 
in chorus, beneath the windows of Rigby's hotel, that 
he was ' a fine old English gentleman ! ' 

But there was to be a contest ; no question about 
that, and a sharp one, although Rigby was to win, 
and well. The liberal party had been so fastidious 
about their new candidate, that they had none ready 
though several biting. Jawster Sharp thought at one 
time that sheer necessity would give him another 
chance still ; but even Rigby was preferable to 
Jawster Sharp, who, finding it would not do, pub- 
lished his long-prepared valedictory address, in which 
he told his constituents, that having long sacrificed 
his health to their interests, he was now obliged to 
retire into the bosom of his family. And a very well 
provided for family, too. 

All this time the Liberal deputation from Darlford 
— two aldermen, three town counsellors, and the 
Secretary of the Reform Association, were walking 
about London like mad things, eating luncheons and 
looking for a candidate. They called at the Reform 
Club twenty times in the morning, badgered whips 
and red-tapers, were introduced to candidates, 
badgered candidates ; examined would-be members 
as if they were at a cattle show, listened to political 
pedigrees, dictated political pledges, referred to Han- 
sard to see how men had voted, inquired whether 
men had spoken, finally discussed terms. But they 
never could hit the right man. If the principles were 
right, there was no money ; and if money were ready, 
money would not take pledges. In fact they wanted 
a Phoenix ; a very rich man, who would do exactly as 

33^ 



CONINGSBY Book V 

they liked, with extremely low opinions and with very 
high connexions. 

' If he would go for the ballot and had a handle to 
his name, it would have the best effect,' said the 
secretary of the Reform Association, ' because you see 
we are fighting against a Right Honourable, and you 
have no idea how that takes with the mob.' 

The deputation had been three days in town, and 
urged by despatches by every train to bring affairs to 
a conclusion, jaded, perplexed, confused, they were 
ready to fall into the hands of the first jobber or bold 
adventurer. They discussed over their dinner at a 
Strand Coffee-house the claims of the various candi- 
dates who had presented themselves. Mr. Donald 
Macpherson Macfarlane, who would only pay the 
legal expenses : he was soon dispatched. Mr. 
Gingerly Browne of Jermyn Street, the younger son 
of a Baronet, who would go as far as a ^looo, 
provided the seat was secured. Mr. Juggins, a dis- 
tiller, ;^2ooo man ; but would not agree to any 
annual subscriptions. Sir Baptist Placid, vague about 
expenditure, but repeatedly declaring that ' there 
could be no difficulty on that head.' He however 
had a moral objection to subscribing to the races, — 
and that was a great point at Darlford. Sir Baptist 
would subscribe a guinea per annum to the Infirmary, 
and the same to all religious societies, without any 
distinction of sects — but races, it was not the sum, 
;^ioo per annum, but the principle. He had a moral 
objection. 

In short the deputation began to suspect what was 
the truth, that they were a day after the fair, and that 
all the electioneering rips that swarm in the purlieus 
of political clubs during an impending dissolution of 
Parliament, men who become political characters in 

332 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

their small circle, because they have been talked of as 
once having an intention to stand for places 
for which they never offered themselves, or for 
having stood for places, where they never could 
by any circumstance have succeeded, were in fact 
nibbling at their dainty morsel. 

At this moment of despair, a ray of hope was im- 
parted to them by a confidential note from a secretary 
of the Treasury, who wished to see them at the Re- 
form Club on the morrow. You may be sure they 
were punctual to their appointment. The secretary 
received them with great consideration. He had got 
them a candidate, and one of high mark — the son of 
a Peer, and connected with the highest Whig 
houses. Their eyes sparkled. A real honourable. 
If they liked he would introduce them immediately 
to the Honourable Alberic de Crecy. He had only 
to introduce them, as there was no difficulty either as 
to means or opinions, expenses or pledges. 

The secretary returned with a young gentleman 
whose diminutive stature would seem, from his 
smooth and singularly puerile countenance, to be 
merely the consequence of his very tender years, but 
Mr. de Crecy was really of age, or at least would be 
by the nomination day. He did not say a word, but 
looked like the rosebud which dangled in the button- 
hole of his frock coat. The Aldermen and Town 
Counsellors were what is sometimes emphatically 
styled flabbergasted ; they were speechless from be- 
wilderment. ' Mr. de Crecy will go for the ballot,' 
said the secretary of the Treasury with an audacious 
eye and a demure look, ' and for Total and Immediate 
if you press him hard ; but don't if you can help it, 
because he has an uncle, an old county member who 
has prejudices, and might disinherit him. How- 

333 



CONINGSBY Book V 

ever, we answer for him. And 1 am very happy that 
I have been the means of bringing about an arrange- 
ment, which I feel will be mutually advantageous.' 
And so saying the secretary effected his escape. 

Circumstances, however, retarded for a season the 
political career of the Honourable Alberic de Crecy. 
While the Liberal party at Darlford were suffering 
under the daily inflictions of Mr. Rigby's slashing 
style, and the post brought them very unsatisfactory 
prospects of a champion, one offered himself, and in 
an address which intimated that he was no man of 
straw, likely to recede from any contest in which he 
chose to embark. The town was suddenly placarded 
with a letter to the Independent Electors from Mr. 
Millbank the new proprietor of Hellingsley. 

He expressed himself as one not anxious to ob- 
trude himself on their attention and founding no 
claim to their confidence on his recent acquisition ; 
but at the same time as one resolved that the free and 
enlightened community, with which he must neces- 
sarily hereafter be much connected, should not be- 
come the nomination Borough of any Peer of the 
realm without a struggle if they chose to make one. 
And so he offered himself if they could not find a 
better candidate without waiting for the ceremony of 
a requisition. He was exactly the man they wanted ; 
and though he had * no handle to his name,' and was 
somewhat impracticable about pledges, his fortune 
was so great, and his character so high, that it might 
be hoped that the people would be almost as content 
as if they were appealed to by some obscure scion of 
factitious nobility subscribing to political engage- 
ments which he could not comprehend, and which in 
general are vomited with as much facility as they are 
swallowed. 

334 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 



CHAPTER IV 

The people of Darlford who, as long as the contest 
for their representation remained between Mr. Rigby 
and the abstraction called Liberal Principles, appeared 
to be very indifferent about the result, the moment 
they learned that for the phrase had been substituted 
a substance, and that too in the form of a gentleman, 
who was soon to figure as their resident neighbour, 
became excited, speedily enthusiastic. All the bells 
of all the churches rang when Mr. Millbank com- 
menced his canvass ; the Conservatives, on the alert, 
if not alarmed, insisted on their champion also show- 
ing himself in all directions ; and in the course of 
four-and-twenty hours, such is the contagion of popu- 
lar feeling, the town was divided into two parties, 
the vast majority of which were firmly convinced that 
the country could only be saved by the return of Mr. 
Rigby, or preserved from inevitable destruction by 
the election of Mr. Millbank. 

The results of the twO canvasses were such as had 
been anticipated from the previous reports of the 
respective agents and supporters. In these days the 
personal canvass of a candidate is a mere form. The 
whole country that is to be invaded has been surveyed 
and mapped out before entry ; every position re- 
connoitered ; the chain of communications complete. 
In the present case as is not unusual, both candidates 
were really supported by numerous and reputable ad- 
herents ; and both had very good grounds for be- 
lieving that they would be ultimately successful. 
But there was a body of the electors sufficiently 
numerous to turn the election who would not promise 
their votes : conscientious men who felt the responsi- 

335 



CONINGSBY Book V 



bility of the duty that the constitution had entrusted 
to their discharge, and who would not make up their 
minds without duly weighing the respective merits of 
the two rivals. This class of deeply meditative in- 
dividuals are distinguished not only by their pensive 
turn of mind ; but by a charitable vein that seems to 
pervade their being. Not only will they think of 
your request, but for their parts they wish both sides 
equally well. Decision indeed, as it must dash the 
hopes of one of their solicitors, seems infinitely 
painful to them ; they have always a good reason for 
postponing it. If you seek their suffrage during the 
canvass, they reply that the writ not having come 
down, the day of election is not yet fixed. If you 
call again to inform them that the writ has arrived, 
they rejoin that perhaps after all there may not be a 
contest. If you call a third time half dead with 
fatigue, to give them friendly notice that both you 
and your rival have pledged yourselves to go to the 
poll, they twitch their trowsers, rub their hands, and 
with a dull grin will observe. 
' Well, sir, we shall see.' • 

* Come, Mr. Jobson,' says one of the committee 
with an insinuating smile, ' give Mr. Millbank one.' 

'Jobson, I think you and I know each other,' says 
a most influential supporter with a knowing nod. 

' Yes, Mr. Smith, I should think we did.' 

' Come, come, give us one.' 

' Well, I have not made up my mind yet, gentle- 
men.' 

* Jobson!' says a solemn voice — Didn't you tell 
me the other night you wished well to this gentle- 
man.'*' 



s 

I 



' So I do ; I wish well to everybody,' replies th6_ 
imperturbable Jobson. 

33^> 



I 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

' Well, Jobson,' exclaims another member of the 
committee with a sigh, * who could have supposed 
that you would have been an enemy ! ' 

' I don't wish to be no enemy to no man, Mr. 
Trip.' 

' Come, Jobson,' says a jolly tanner, ' if I wanted 
to be a Parliament man, I don't think you could re- 
fuse me one!' 

' I don't think I could Mr. Oakfield.' 

' Well then give it to my friend.' 

' Well, sir, I'll think about it.' 

' Leave him to me,' says another member of the 
committee with a significant look. ' I know how to 
get round him. It's all right.' 

' Yes, leave him to Hayfield, Mr. Millbank, he 
knows how to manage him.' 

But all the same, Jobson continues to look as little 
tractable and lamb-like as can be well fancied. 

And here in a work, which in an unpretending 
shape aspires to take neither an uninformed nor a 
partial view of the political history of the ten event- 
ful years of the Reform struggle, we should pause for 
a moment to observe the strangeness, that only five 
years after the reconstruction of the electoral body by 
the Whig party, in a borough called into political 
existence by their policy, a manufacturing town too, 
their candidate comprising in his person every quality 
and circumstance which could recommend him to the 
constituency, and his opponent the worst specimen of 
the Old Generation, a political adventurer, who owed 
the least disreputable part of his notoriety to his op- 
position to the Reform Bill ; that in such a borough 
under such circumstances there should be a contest, 
and that too one of a very doubtful issue. 

What was the cause of this P Are we to seek it in 
Y 337 



CONINGSBY Book V 



the * Re-action ' of the Tadpoles and the Tapers ? 
That would not be a very satisfactory solution. Re- 
action to a certain extent is the law of human exist- 
ence. In the particular state of affairs before us ; 
England after the Reform Act ; it never could be 
doubtful, that Time would gradually, and in some in- 
stances, rapidly, counteract the national impulse of 
1832. There never could have been a question, for 
example, that the English counties would have re- 
verted to their natural allegiance to their proprietors ; 
but the results of the appeals to the third Estate in 
1835 ^^^ ^^37 ^^^ ^^* ^^ ^^ accounted for by a mere 
re-adjustment of legitimate influences. 

The truth is, that considerable as are the abilities of 
the Whig leaders ; highly accomplished as many of 
them unquestionably must be acknowledged in parlia- 
mentary debate ; experienced in council ; sedulous in 
ofl^ce ; eminent as scholars ; powerful from their 
position ; the absence of individual influence, of the 
pervading authority of a commanding mind, has beei^ 
the cause of the fall of the Whig party. ^^M 

Such a supremacy was generally acknowledged ral 
Lord Grey on the accession of this party to power; 
but it was the supremacy of a tradition rather than 
of a fact. Almost at the outset of his authority his 
successor was indicated. When the crisis arrived, 
the intended successor was not in the Whig ranks. 
It is in this virtual absence of a real and recognised 
leader, almost from the moment that they passed their 
great measure, that we must seek a chief cause of all 
that insubordination, all those distempered ambitions, 
and all those dark intrigues, that finally broke up not 
only the Whig government, but the Whig party ; 
demoralised their ranks ; and sent them to the coun- 
try, both in 1835 ^"^^ ^^37 ^^^^ every illusion, which 

338 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

had operated so happily in their favour in 1832, 
scattered to the winds. In all things we trace the ir- 
resistible influence of the individual. 

And yet the interval that elapsed between 1835 ^^^ 
1837 proved, that there was all this time in the Whig 
array one entirely competent to the office of leading a 
great party, though his capacity for that fulfilment 
was too tardily recognised. 

Lord John Russell has that degree of imagina- 
tion which though evinced rather in sentiment than 
expression, still enables him to generalize from the 
details of his reading and experience ; and to take 
those comprehensive views, which however easily 
depreciated by ordinary men in an age of routine, 
are indispensable to a statesman in the conjunctures in 
which we live. He understands therefore his posi- 
tion ; and he has the moral intrepidity which prompts 
him ever to dare that which his intellect assures him 
is politic. He is consequently at the same time, 
sagacious and bold, in council. As an administrator, 
he is prompt and indefatigable. He is not a natural 
orator ; and labours under physical deficiencies which 
even a Demosthenic impulse could scarcely overcome. 
But he is experienced in debate ; quick in reply, fer- 
tile in resource ; takes large views ; and frequently 
compensates for a dry and hesitating manner by the 
expression of those noble truths, that flash across the 
fancy, and rise spontaneously to the lip, of men of 
poetic temperament when addressing popular assem- 
blies. If we add to this a private life of dignified re- 
pute ; the accidents of his birth and rank, which 
never can be severed from the man, the scion of a 
great historic family, and born as it were to the here- 
ditary service of the State ; it is difficult to ascertain 
at what period, or under what circumstances, the 

339 



CONINGSBY Book V 

Whig party have ever possessed, or could obtain, a 
more efficient leader. 

But we must return to the Darlford election. The 
class of thoughtful voters was sufficiently numerous 
in that borough to render the result of the contest 
doubtful to the last, and on the eve of the day of 
nomination both parties were equally sanguine. 

Nomination day altogether is a most unsatisfactory 
affair. There is little to be done, and that little mere 
form. The tedious hours remain ; and no one can 
settle his mind to any thing. It is not a holiday, for 
every one is serious ; it is not business, for no one can 
attend to it ; it is not a contest, for there is no can- 
vassing ; nor an election, for there is no poll. It is a 
day of lounging without an object, and luncheons 
without an appetite ; of hopes and fears ; confidence 
and dejection ; bravado bets and secret hedging ; and 
about midnight, of furious suppers of grilled bones, 
brandy-and-water, and recklessness. 

The president and vice-president of the Conse 
tive Association, the secretary and the four solicito: 
who were agents, had impressed upon Mr. Rig 
that it was of the utmost importance, and must p 
duce a great moral effect if he obtained the show 
hands. With his powers of eloquence and their 
secret organisation they flattered themselves it might 
be done. With this view Rigby inflicted a speech of 
more than two hours' duration on the electors, who 
bore it very kindly, as the mob likes above all things 
that the ceremonies of nomination day should not be 
cut short : moreover there is nothing that the mob 
likes so much as a speech. Rigby therefore had on 
the whole a far from unfavourable audience, and he 
availed himself of their forbearance. He brought in 
his crack theme the guillotine, and dilated so elabor* 

340 




Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

ately upon its qualities, that one of the gentlemen 
below could not refrain from exclaiming : ' I wish you 
may get it.' This exclamation gave Mr. Rigby what 
is called a great opening, which, like a practised 
speaker, he immediately seized. He denounced the 
sentiment as ' un-English,' and got very much 
cheered. Excited by this success Rigby began calling 
everything else ' un-English ' with which he did not 
agree, until menacing murmurs began to rise, when 
he shifted the subject, and rose into a grand perora- 
tion, in which he assured them that the eyes of the 
whole empire were on this particular election, (cries 
of * that's true,' from all sides) and that England 
expected every man to do his duty. 

' And who do you expect to do yours .'^' inquired a 
gentleman below, ' about that ere pension ?^ 

' Rigby,' screeched a hoarse voice, ' don't you 
mind ; you guv it them well.' 

' Rigby, keep up your spirits old chap : we will 
have you.' 

' Now,' said a stentorian voice, and a man as tall 
as Saul looked round him. This was the engaged 
leader of the Conservative mob ; the eye of every 
one of his minions was instantly on him. 'Now! 
Our young Queen and our old institutions ; Rigby 
for ever!' 

This was a signal for the instant appearance of 
the leader of the Liberal mob. Magog Wrath, not 
so tall as Bully Bluck his rival, had a voice almost as 
powerful, a back much broader, and a countenance 
far more forbidding. ' Now, my boys ; the Queen 
and Millbank for ever.' 

These rival cries were the signals for a fight be- 
tween the two bands of gladiators in the face of the 
hustings ; the body of the people little interfering. 

341 



(y^ A J n f- ^ -»9rtA Book 



CONINGSBY (> ■OL<^,^-^^-''^ ^^^ ^ 

Bully Bluck seized Magog Wrath's colours; they 
wrestled, they seized each other ; their supporters 
were engaged in mutual contest ; it appeared to be a 
most alarming and perilous fray ; several ladies from 
the windows screamed, one fainted ; a band of special 
constables pushed their way through the mob ; you 
heard their staves resounding on the skulls of all who 
opposed them, especially the little boys : order was at 
length restored ; and to tell the truth, the only hurts 
inflicted were those which came from the special con- 
stables. Bully Bluck and Magog Wrath, with all 
their fierce looks, flaunting colours, loud cheers, and 
desperate assaults, were after all only a couple of Con- 
dottieri, who were cautious never to wound each 
other. They were in fact a very peaceful police, who 
kept the town in awe, and prevented others from 
being mischievous who were more inclined to do 
harm. Their hired gangs were the safety valves for 
all the scamps of the borough, who receiving a few 
shillings per head for their nominal service, and as 
much drink as they liked after the contest, were 
bribed and organised into peace and sobriety on the 
days in which their excesses were most to be appre- 
hended. 

Now Mr. Millbank came forward : he was very 
brief compared with Mr. Rigby ; but clear and terse. 
No one could misunderstand him. He did not 
favour his hearers with any history, but gave them 
his views about taxes, free trade, placemen and pen- 
sioners, whoever and wherever they might be. 
' Hilloa, Rigby, about that ere pension V 
' Millbank for ever! We will have him.' 
* Never mind, Rigby, you'll come in next time.' 
Mr. Millbank was very energetic about resident 
representatives, but did not understand that a re- 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

sident representative meant the nominee of a great 
lord, who hved in a great castle, (great cheering). 
There was a Lord once who declared that if Tie liked, 
he would return his negro valet to Parliament ; but 
Mr. Millbank thought those days were over. It re- 
mained for the people of Darlford to determine 
whether he was mistaken. 

'Never!' exclaimed the mob. 'Millbank for 
ever ! Rigby in the river ! No niggers, no walets ! ' 

' Three groans for Rigby.' 

' His language ain't as purty as the Lunnun chaps,' 
said a critic below ; ' but he speaks from his art ; and 
give me the man who as got a art.' 

' That's your time of day, Mr. Robinson.' 

' Now,' said Magog Wrath looking around. 
* Now — the Queen and Millbank for ever ! Hur- 
rah!' 

The s how^^f^hands was entirely in favour of Mr. 
IVnrUi^l^. Scarcely a hand "was held up for Mr. 
Rigby below, except by Bully Bluck and his praetor- 
ians. The Chairman and the Deputy Chairman of 
the Conservative Association, the Secretary and the 
four agents severally and respectively went up to Mr. 
Rigby and congratulated him on the result, as it was 
a known fact ' that the show of hands never won.' 

The eve of polling day was now at hand. This is 
the most critical period of an election. All night 
parties in disguise were perambulating the different 
wards, watching each others tactics ; masks, wigs, 
false noses, gentles in livery coats, men in female 
-attire — a silent carnival of manoeuvre, vigilance, 
anxiety, and trepidation. The thoughtful voters 
about this time make up their minds ; the enthusiasts 
who have told you twenty times a day for the last 
fortnight, that they would get up in the middle of the 

343 



CONINGSBY Book V 

night to serve you, require the most watchful coop- 
ing ; all the individuals who have assured you that 
' their word is their bond,' change sides. 

Two of the Rigbyites met in the market-place 
about an hour after midnight. 

' Well, how goes it ?'^ said one. 

' I have been the rounds. The blunts going like 
the ward-pump. I saw a man come out of Moffatt's 
house, muffled up with a mask on. I dodged him. 
It was Biggs.' 

* You don't mean that, do you ? D — e I'll answer 
for Moffatt.' 

* I never thought he was a true man.' 
*Told Robins.?' 

' I could not see him ; but I met young Gunning 
and told him.' 

* Young Gunning! That won't do.' 

* I thought he was as right as the town clock.' 

* So did I once. Hush ! who comes here ? The 
enemy, Franklin and Sampson Potts. Keep close.' 

' I'll speak to them. Good night. Potts. Up 
rather late to-night ?^ 

'All fair election time. You ain't snoring are you'j 

' Well, I hope the best man will win.' 

' I am sure he will.' 

' You must go for Moffatt early, to breakfast 
the White Lion ; that's your sort. Don't leave hii 
and poll him yourself. I am going off to Solomon 
Lacey's. He has got four Millbankites cooped up 
very drunk, and I want to get them quietly into the 
country before daybreak.' 

'Tis polling day! The candidates are roused from 
their slumbers at an early hour by the music of their 
own bands perambulating the town, and each playing 
the ' conquering hero ' to sustain the courage of their 

344 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

jaded employers by depriving them of that rest which 
can alone tranquillize the nervous system. There is 
something in that matin burst of music, followed by 
a shrill cheer from the boys of the borough, the only 
inhabitants yet up, that is very depressing. 

The committee-rooms of each candidate are soon 
rife with black reports ; each side has received fearful 
bulletins of the preceding night campaign ; and its 
consequences as exemplified in the morning, unpre- 
cedented tergiversations, mysterious absences ; men 
who breakfast with one side and vote with the other ; 
men who won't come to breakfast ; men who won't 
leave breakfast. 

At ten o'clock Mr. Rigby was in a majority of 
twenty-eight. 

The polling was brisk and very equal until the 
middle of the day, when it became very slack. Mr. 
Rigby kept a majority, but an inconsiderable one. 
Mr. Millbank's friends were not disheartened, as it 
was known that the leading members of Mr. Rigby's 
Committee had polled ; whereas his opponent's were 
principally reserved. At a quarter past two there was 
great cheering and uproar. The four voters in 
favour of Millbank whom Solomon Lacey had cooped 
up, made drunk, and carried into the country, had 
recovered their senses, made their escape, and voted 
as they originally intended. Soon after this, Mr. 
Millbank was declared by his Committee to be in a 
majority of one, but the Committee of Mr. Rigby 
instantly posted a placard in large letters to announce 
that on the contrary their man was in a majority of 
nine. 

* If we could only have got another registration,' 
whispered the principal agent to Mr. Rigby at a 
quarter past four. 

345 



CONINGSBY Book V 

' You think it's all over then?' 

* Why I do not see now how we can win. We 
have polled all our dead men, and Millbank is seven 
a head.' 

' I have no doubt we shall be able to have a good 
petition,' said the consoling chairman of the Con- 
servative Association. 

CHAPTER V 

It was not with feelings of extreme satisfaction that 
Mr. Rigby returned to London. The loss of Hel- 
lingsley, followed by the loss of the borough to 
Hellingsley's successful master, were not precisely 
the incidents which would be adduced as evidence of 
Mr. Rigby's good management or good fortune. 
Hitherto that gentleman had persuaded the world 
that he was not only very clever, but that he was also 
always in luck ; a quality which many appreciate more 
even than capacity. His reputation was unquestion- 
ably damaged both with his patron and his party. 
But what the Tapers and the Tadpoles thought or 
said, what even might be the injurious effect on his 
own career of the loss of his election, assumed an 
insignificant character when compared with its in- 
fluence on the temper and disposition of the Mar- 
quess of Monmouth. 

And yet his carriage is now entering the court-yard 
of Monmouth House, and in all probability a few 
minutes would introduce him to that presence before \ 
which he had ere this trembled. The Marquess was : 
at home, and anxious to see Mr. Rigby. In a very \ 
few minutes that gentleman was ascending the pri- ; 
vate staircase, entering the antechamber, and waiting |; 
to be received in the little saloon, exactly as our j 

346 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

Coningsby did more than five years ago, scarcely less 
agitated, but by feelings of a very different char- 
acter. 

' Well, you made a good fight of it,' exclaimed the 
Marquess in a cheerful and particularly cordial tone, 
as Mr. Rigby entered his dressing-room. * Patience ! 
We shall win next time.' 

This reception instantly re-assured the defeated 
candidate, though its contrast to that which he ex- 
pected, rather perplexed him. He entered into the 
details of the election, talked rapidly of the next 
; registration, the propriety of petitioning ; accustomed 
I himself to hearing his voice with its habitual volu- 
bility in a chamber where he had feared it might not 
sound for some time. 

' D n politics ! ' said the Marquess. * These 

fellows are in for this parliament, and I am really 
weary of the whole affair. I begin to think the Duke 
was right, and it would have been best to have left 
them to themselves. I am glad you have come up at 
i once, for I want you. The fact is, I^aip going to be 
married.' --i,..., .'^""i^ ..u: '■ 

This was not a startling announcement to Mr! 
Rigby ; he was prepared for it, though scarcely could 
have hoped that he would have been favoured with it 
on the present occasion, instead of a morose comment 
on his misfortunes. Marriage then was the pre- 
: dominant idea of Lord Monmouth at the present 
moment, in whose absorbing interest all vexations 
were forgotten. Fortunate Rigby! Disgusted by 
the failure of his political combinations, his dis- 
appointments in not dictating to the county and not 
carrying the borough, and the slight prospect at pre- 
sent of obtaining the great object of his ambition, 
,Lord Monmouth had resolved to precipitate his 

347 



CONINGSBY Book V 

fate, was about to marry immediately, and quit 
England. 

' You will be wanted, Rigby,' continued the Mar- 
quess. ' We must have a couple of trustees, and I 
have thought of you as one. You know you are my 
executor ; and it is better not to bring in unneces- 
sarily new names into the management of my affairs. 
Lord Eskdale will act with you.' 

Rigby then, after all, was a lucky man. After such 
a succession of failures, he had returned only to re- 
ceive fresh and the most delicate marks of his patron's 
good feeling and consideration. Lord Monmouth's 
trustee and executor ! ' You know you are my ex- 
ecutor.' Sublime truth ! It ought to be blazoned in 
letters of gold in the most conspicuous part of 
Rigby's library, to remind him perpetually of his 
great and impending destiny. Lord Monmouth's 
executor, and very probably one of his residuary 
legatees! A legatee of some sort he knew he was. 
What a splendid memento mori ! What cared 
Rigby for the borough of Darlford ? And as for his 
political friends, he wished them joy of their barren 
benches. Nothing was lost by not being in this 
Parliament. 

It was then with sincerity that Rigby offered his 
congratulations to his patron. He praised the judi- 
cious alliance, accompanied by every circumstance 
conducive to worldly happiness ; distinguished 
beauty, perfect temper, princely rank. Rigby, who 
had hardly got out of his hustings' vein, was most 
eloquent in his praises of Madame Colonna. 

* A very amiable woman,' said Lord Monmouth, 
* and very handsome. I always admired her ; and a 
very agreeable person too ; I dare say a very good 
temper, but I am not going to marry her.' 
348 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

' Might I then ask who is — ' 

' Her step-daughter^ the Princess Lucretia,' replied 
the Marquess very quietly, and looking at his ring. 
r'Here was a thunderbolt! Rigby had made an- 
other mistake. He had been working all this time 
for the wrong woman! The consciousness of being 
a trustee alone sustained him. There was an in- 
evitable pause. The Marquess would not speak 
however, and Rigby must. He babbled rather in- 
coherently about the Princess Lucretia being admired 
by every body ; also that she was the most fortunate 
of women, as well as the most accomplished ; he was 
just beginning to say he had known her from a child, 
when discretion stopped his tongue, which had a 
habit of running on somewhat rashly ; but Rigby, 
though he often blundered in his talk, had the talent 
of extricating himself from the consequence of his 
mistakes. 

* And Madame must be highly gratified by all 
this?' observed Mr. Rigby with an inquiring accent. 
He was dying to learn how she had first received the 
intelligence, and congratulated himself that his ab- 
sence at his contest had preserved him from the 
storm. 

' Madame Colonna knows nothing of our inten- 
tions,' said Lord Monmouth. * And by the bye, that 
is the very business on which I wished to see you, 
Rigby. I wish you to communicate them to her. 
We are to be married, and immediately. It would 
gratify me that the wife of Lucretia's father should 
attend our wedding. You understand exactly what 
I mean, Rigby — I must have no scenes. Always 
happy to see the Princess Colonna under my roof ; 
but then I like to live quietly, particularly at present ; 
harassed as I have been by the loss of these elections, 

349 



CONINGSBV Book V 

by all this bad management, and by all these dis- 
appointments on subjects in which I was led to be- 
lieve success was certain. Madame Colonna is at 
home,' and the Marquess bowed Mr. Rigby out of 
the room. 



CHAPTER VI 






The departure of Sidonia from Coningsby Castle in 
the autumn determined the Princess Lucretia on a 
step which had for some time before his arrival occu- 
pied her brooding imagination. Nature had be- 
stowed on this lady an ambitious soul and a subtile 
spirit ; she could dare much, and could execute finely. 
Aiiove.-all things she coveted power ; and though not 
free from the characteristic susceptibility of her sex, 
the qualities that could engage her passions or 
fascinate her fancy must partake of that intellectual 
eminence which distinguished her. Though the 
Princess Lucretia in a short space of time had seen 
much of the world, she had as yet encountered no 
hero. In the admirers whom her rank, and some- 
times her intelligence, assembled around her, her 
master had not yet appeared. Her heart had not 
trembled before any of those brilliant forms whom 
she was told her sex admired ; nor did she envy any 
one the homage which she did not appreciate. There 
was therefore no disturbing element in the worldly 
calculations which she applied to that question which 
is to woman what a career is to man, the question of 
I marriage. She would marry to gain power, and 
Ljherefore she wished to marry the powerful. Lord 
Eskdale hovered around her, and she liked him. She 
admired his incomparable shrewdness ; his freedom 
from ordinary prejudices, the selfishness which was 
always good-natured, and the imperturbability that 

350 ~ 



i 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

was not callous. But Lord Eskdale had hovered 
round many ; it was his easy habit. He liked clever 
women, young, but who had seen something of the 
world. The Princess Lucretia pleased him much ; 
with the form and mind of a woman even in the 
nursery. He had watched her development with in- 
terest ; and had witnessed her launched in that world 
where she floated at once with as much dignity and 
consciousness of superior power, as if she had braved 
for seasons its waves and its tempests. 

Musing over Lord Eskdale, the mind of Lucretia 
was drawn to the image of his friend ; her friend ; 
the friend of her parents. And why not marry Lord 
Monmouth.? The idea pleased her. There was 
something great in the conception ; difficult and 
strange. The result, if achieved, would give her all 
that she desired. She devoted her mind to this secret 
thought. She had no confidants. She concentrated 
her intellect on one point, and that was to fascinate 
the grandfather of Coningsby, while her step-mother 
was plotting that she should marry his grandson. The 
volition of Lucretia Colonna was, if not supreme, of a 
power most difficult to resist. There was something 
charm-like and alluring in the conversation of one 
who was silent to all others ; something in the tones 
of her low rich voice which acted singularly on the 
nervous system. It was the voice of the serpent ; 
indeed there was an undulating movement in Lucretia 
when she approached you, which irresistibly reminded 
you of that mysterious animal. -- 

Lord Monmouth was not insensible to the spell, 
though totally unconscious of its purpose. He found 
the society of Lucretia very agreeable to him ; she 
was animated, intelligent, original ; her inquiries were 
stimulating ; her comments on what she saw, and 

351 



CONINGSBY Book V 

heard, and read, racy and often indicating a fine 
humour. But all this was reserved for his ear. Be- 
fore her parents as before all others, Lucretia was 
silent, a little scornful, never communicating, neither 
giving nor seeking amusement, shut up in herself. 

Lord Monmouth fell therefore into the habit of 
riding and driving with Lucretia alone. It was an 
arrangement which he found made his life more 
pleasant. Nor was it displeasing to Madame 
Colonna. She looked upon Lord Monmouth's fancy 
for Lucretia as a fresh tie for them all. Even the 
Prince, when his wife called his attention to the cir- 
cumstance, observed it with satisfaction. It was a 
circumstance which represented in his mind a con- 
tinuance of good eating and good drinking, fine 
horses, luxurious baths, unceasing billiards. 

In this state of affairs appeared Sidonia, known 
before to her step-mother, but seen by Lucretia for 
the first time. Truly he came, saw, and conquered. 
Those eyes that rarely met anothers, were fixed upon 
his searching yet unimpassioned glance. She listened 
to that voice full of music, yet void of tenderness : 
and the spirit of Lucretia Colonna bowed before an 
intelligence that commanded sympathy, yet offered 
none. 

Lucretia naturally possessed great qualities as well 
as great talents. Under a genial influence her educa- 
tion might have formed a being capable of imparting 
and receiving happiness. But she found herself 
without a guide. Her father offered her no love ; 
her step-mother gained from her no respect. Her 
literary education was the result of her own strong 
mind and inquisitive spirit. She valued knowledge, 
and she therefore acquired it. But not a single moral 
principle or a single religious truth had ever been 

3$2 



■ 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

instilled into her being. Frequent absence from her 
own country had by degrees broken off even an 
habitual observance of the forms of her creed ; while 
a life of undisturbed indulgence, void of all anxiety 
and care, while it preserved her from many of the 
temptations to vice, deprived her of that wisdom 
' more precious than rubies ' which adversity and 
affliction, the struggles and the sorrows of existence, 
can alone impart. 

Lucretia had passed her life in a refined, but rather 
dissolute society. Not indeed that a word that could 
call forth a maiden blush, conduct that could pain the 
purest feelings, could be heard or witnessed in those 
polished and luxurious circles. The most exquisite 
taste pervaded their atmosphere ; and the unitiated 
who found themselves in those perfumed chambers 
and those golden saloons, might believe from all that 
passed before them, that their inhabitants were as 
pure, as orderly, and as irreproachable as their fiirni- 
ture. But among the habitual dwellers in these 
delicate halls, there was a tacit understanding, a pre- 
valent doctrine that required no formal exposition, no 
proofs and illustrations, no comment and no gloss ; 
which was indeed rather a traditional conviction than 
an imparted dogma ; that the exoterick public were on 
many subjects the victims of very vulgar prejudices, 
which these enlightened personages wished neither to 
disturb nor to adopt. 

A being of such a temper, bred in such a manner ; 
a woman full of intellect and ambition, daring and 
lawless, and satiated with prosperity, is not made for 
equable fortunes and an uniform existence. She 
would have sacrificed the world for Sidonia, for he had 
touched the fervent imagination that none before 
could approach, but that inscrutable man would not 

z 353 



CONINGSBY Book V 

read the secret of her heart ; and prompted alike by 
pique, the love of power, and a weariness of her pre- 
sent life, Lucretia resolved on that great result which 
Mr. Rigby is now about to communicate to the 
Princess Colonna. 

About half an hour after Mr. Rigby had entered 
that lady's apartments it seemed that all the bells of 
Monmouth House were ringing at the same time. 
The sound even reached the Marquess in his luxuri- 
ous recess, who immediately took a pinch of snuff 
and ordered his valet to lock the door of the ante- 
chamber. The Princess Lucretia too heard the 
sounds ; she was lying on a sofa in her boudoir read- 
ing the Inferno and immediately mustered her garri- 
son in the form of a French maid, and gave directions 
that no one should be admitted. Both the Mar- 
quess, and his intended bride, felt that a crisis was at 
hand, and resolved to participate in no scenes. 

The ringing ceased ; there was again silence. 
Then there was another ring ; a very short, has 
and violent pull ; followed by some slamming 
doors. The servants, who were all on the alert 
had advantages of hearing and observation denie( 
their secluded master, caught a glimpse of Mr. Rii 
endeavouring gently to draw back into her apai 
ments Madame Colonna, furious amid his deprecatory 
exclamations. 

' For Heaven's sake, my dear Madame ; for your 
own sake — now really — now I assure you — you are 
quite wrong — you are indeed — it is a complete mis- 
apprehension — I will explain everything. I entreat 
— I implore — whatever you like — just what you 
please — only listen.' 

Then the lady with a mantling visage and flashing 
eye, violently closing the door, was again lost to their 

354 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

sight. A few minutes after, there was a more 
moderate ring and Mr. Rigby coming out of the 
apartments, with his cravat a little out of order as if 
he had had a violent shaking, met the servant who 
would have entered. 

' Order Madame Colonna's travelling carriage,' he 
exclaimed in a loud voice, ' and send Mademoiselle 
Conrad here directly. I don't think the fellow hears 
me,' added Mr. Rigby and following the servant, he 
added in a low tone and with a significant glance, 
* no travelling carriage ; no Mademoiselle Conrad ; 
order the britska round as usual.' 

Nearly another hour passed ; there was another 
ring ; very moderate indeed. The servant was in- 
formed that Madame Colonna was coming down ; 
and she appeared as usual. In a beautiful morning 
dress, and leaning on the arm of Mr. Rigby she 
descended the stairs, and was handed into her carriage 
by that gentleman, who seating himself by her side, 
ordered them to drive to Richmond. 

Lord Monmouth having been informed that all 
was calm, and that Madame Colonna attended by Mr. 
Rigby, had gone to Richmond, ordered his carriage, 
and accompanied by Lucretia and Lucian Gray, 
departed immediately for Blackwall, where in white 
bait, a quiet bottle of claret, the society of his 
agreeable friends, and the contemplation of the pass- 
ing steamers, he found a mild distraction and an 
amusing repose. 

Mr. Rigby reported that evening to the Marquess 
on his return, that all was arranged and tranquil. 
Perhaps he exaggerated the difficulties, to increase the 
service ; but according to his account they were very 
considerable. It required some time to make 
Madame Colonna comprehend the nature of his com- 

355 






CONINGSBY Book V 

munication. All Rigby's diplomatic skill was ex- 
pended in the gradual development. When it was 
once fairly put before her, the effect was appalling. 
That was the first great ringing of bells. Rigby 
softened a little what he had personally endured ; but 
he confessed she sprang at him like a tigress baulked 
of her pre)^ and poured forth on him a volume of 
epithets, many of which Rigby really deserved. But 
after all in the present instance he was not treacher- 
ous, only base, which he always was. Then she fell 
into a passion of tears, and vowed frequently that she 
was not weeping for herself, but only for that dear 
Mr. Coningsby, who had been treated so infamously 
and robbed of Lucretia, and whose heart she knew 
must break. It seemed that Rigby stemmed the first 
violence of her emotion by mysterious intimations of 
an important communication that he had to make ; 
and piquing her curiosity, he calmed her pass 
But really having nothing to say, he was nearly 
volved in fresh dangers. He took refuge in 
affectation of great agitation which prevented 
position. The lady then insisted on her travel 
carriage being ordered, and packed, as she was de 
mined to set out for Rome that afternoon. 1 
little occurrence gave Rigby some few minutes to 
collect himself, at the end of which he made tlu 
Princess several announcements of intended arrange- 
ments, all of which pleased her mightily, though they 
were so inconsistent with each other, that if she had 
not been a woman in a passion, she must have de- 
tected that Rigby was lying. He assured her almost 
in the same breath, that she was never to be separated 
from them, and that she was to have any establish- 
ment in any country she liked. He talked wildly of 
equipages, diamonds, shawls, opera boxes ; and w 

35^ 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

her mind was bewildered with these dazzling objects, 
he with intrepid gravity consulted her as to the exact 
amount she would like to have apportioned, inde- 
pendent of her general revenue, for the purposes of 
charity. 

At the end of two hours, exhausted by her rage and 
soothed by these visions, Madame Colonna, having 
grown calm and reasonable, sighed and murmured a 
complaint, that Lord Monmouth ought to have com- 
municated this important intelligence in person. 
Upon this Rigby instantly assured her, that Lord 
Monmouth had been for some time waiting to do so, 
but in consequence of her lengthened interview with 
Rigby, his Lordship had departed for Richmond with 
Lucretia, where he hoped that Madame Colonna and 
Mr. Rigby would join him. So it ended, with a 
morning drive and suburban dinner ; Rigby, after 
what he had gone through, finding no difficulty in 
accounting for the other guests not being present, and 
bringing home Madame Colonna in the evening, at 
times almost as gay and good-tempered as usual, and 
almost oblivious of her disappointment. 

When the Marquess met Madame Colonna, he 
embraced her with great courtliness, and from that 
time consulted her on every arrangement. He took 
a very early occasion of presenting her with a 
diamond necklace of great value. The Marquess 
was fond of making presents to persons to whom he 
thought he had not behaved very well, and who yet 
spared him scenes. 

The marriage speedily followed by special licence 
at the villa of the Right Hon. Nicholas Rigby, who 
gave away the bride. The wedding party was very 
select, but brilliant as the diamond necklace : a royal 
Duke and Duchess, Lady St. Julians, and a few 

357 



CONINGSBY Book V 

others. Mr. Ormsby presented the bride with a 
bouquet of precious stones, and Lord Eskdale with a 
French fan in a diamond frame. It was a fine day ; 
Lord Monmouth, calm as if he were winning the St. 
Leger ; Lucretia, universally recognized as a beauty ; 
all the guests gay, the Princess Colonna especially. 

The travelling-carriage is at the door which is to 
bear the happy pair away. Madame Colonna em- 
braces Lucretia ; the Marquess gives a grand bow ; 
they are gone. The guests remain awhile. A 
Prince of the blood will propose a toast ; there is 
another glass of champagne quaffed, another ortolan 
devoured ; and then they rise and disperse. Madame 
Colonna leaves them with Lady St. Julians, whose 
guest for a while she is to become. And in a few 
minutes their host is alone. 

Mr. Rigby retired into his library : the repose of 
the chamber must have been grateful to his feeling 
after all this distraction. It was spacious, well-stoi 
classically adorned, and opened on a beautiful hi 
Rigby threw himself into an ample chair, crossed^ 
legs, and resting his head on his arm, apparently! 
into deep contemplation. 

He had some cause for reflection, and though^ 
did once venture to affirm that Rigby never either 
thought or felt, this perhaps may be the exception that 
proves the rule. 

He could scarcely refrain from pondering over the 
strange event which he had witnessed, and had 
assisted. 

It was an incident that might exercise considerable 

influence over his fortunes. His patron married, and 

I married to one who certainly did not offer to Mr. 

Rigby such a prospect of easy management as her 

Vstep-mother ! Here were new influences arising ; 

358 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

new characters, new situations, new contingencies. 
Was he thinking of all this? He suddenly jumps 
up, hurries to a shelf and takes down a volume. It 
is his interleaved peerage, of which for twenty years 
he had been threatening an edition. Turning to the 
Marquisate of Monmouth, he took up his pen and 
thus made the necessary entry. 

^Married, second time^ August yd. 1837, The) 
Princess Lucretia Colonna^ daughter of Prince Paul I 
Colonna, born at Rome^ February, i6th. 18 19. ^^ 

That was what Mr. Rigby called ' a great fact.' 
There was not a peerage compiler in England who 
had that date save himself. 

Before we close this slight narrative of the domestic 
incidents that occurred in the family of his grand- 
father since Coningsby quitted the castle, we must 
not forget to mention what happened to Villebecque 
and Flora. Lord Monmouth took a great liking to 
the manager. He found him very clever in many 
things independently of his profession ; he was use- 
ful to Lord Monmouth, and did his work in an 
agreeable manner. And the future Lady Monmouth 
was accustomed to Flora, and found her useful too, \ 
and did not like to lose her. And so the Marquess J 
turning all the circumstances in his mind, and being 
convinced that Villebecque could never succeed, to 
any extent in England in his profession, and probably 
no where else, appointed him, to Villebecque's infinite 
satisfaction, Intendant of his household with a con- 
siderable salary, while Flora still lived with her kind 
step-father. 

CHAPTER VII 

Another year elapsed ; not so fruitful in incidents to 
Coningsby as the preceding ones, and yet not un- 

359 



CONINGSBY Book V 



profitably passed. It had been spent in the almost 
unremitting cultivation of his intelligence. He had 
read deeply and extensively, digested his acquisitions, 
and had practised himself in surveying them, free 
from those conventional conclusions and those tradi- 
tionary inferences that surrounded him. Although 
he had renounced his once cherished purpose of try- 
ing for University honours, an aim which he found 
discordant with the investigations on which his mind 
was bent, he had rarely quitted Cambridge. The 
society of his friends, the great convenience of public 
libraries, and the general tone of studious life around, 
rendered an University for him a genial residence. 
There is a moment in life, when the pride and thirst 
of knowledge seem to absorb our being, and so it 
happened now to Coningsby, who felt each day 
stronger in his intellectual resources, and each day 
more anxious and avid to increase them. The habi 
of public discussion fostered by the Debating Soci 
were also for Coningsby no inconsiderable tie to 
University. This was the arena in which he felt hi: 
self at home. The promise of his Eton days 
here fulfilled. And while his friends listened to 
sustained argument or his impassioned declamati 
the prompt reply or the apt retort ; they looked 
ward with pride through the vista of years to t! 
time when the hero of the youthful Club should con- 
vince or dazzle in the senate. It is probable then 
that he would have remained at Cambridge with 
slight intervals until he had taken his degree, had not 
circumstances occurred which gave altogether a new 
turn to his thoughts. 

When Lord Monmouth had fixed his wedding-day 
he had written himself to Coningsby to announce his 
intended marriage, and to request his grandson's p 

360 



I 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 



sence at the ceremony. The letter was more than 
kind ; it was warm and generous. He assured his 
grandson that this alliance should make no difference 
in the very ample provision which he had long in- 
tended for him ; that he should ever esteem Conings- 
by his nearest relative ; and that while his death 
would bring to Coningsby as considerable an inde- 
pendence as an English gentleman need desire, so in 
his lifetime, Coningsby should ever be supported as 
became his birth, breeding, and future prospects. 
Lord Monmouth had mentioned to Lucretia, that he 
was about to invite his grandson to their wedding, 
and the lady had received the intimation with satis- 
faction. It so happened that a few hours after, 
Lucretia who now entered the private rooms of Lord 
Monmouth without previovisly announcing her ar- 
rival, met Villebecque with the letter to Coningsby 
in his hand. Lucretia took it away from him, and^H 
said it should be posted with her own letters. It 1 
never reached its destination. Our friend learnt the / 
marriage from the newspapers, which somewhat [ 
astounded him ; but Coningsby was fond of his-* 
grandfather, and he wrote Lord Monmouth a letter 
of congratulation, full of feeling and ingenuousness, 
and which, while it much pleased the person to whom 
it was addressed, unintentionally convinced him that 
Coningsby had never received his original communi- 
cation. Lord Monmouth spoke to Villebecque, who 
could throw sufficient light upon the subject, but it 
was never mentioned to Lady Monmouth. The 
Marquess was a man who always found out every- 
thing, and enjoyed the secret. 

Rather more than a year after the marriage, when 
Coningsby had completed his twenty-first year, the 
year which he had passed so quietly at Cambridge, 

361 



/ 



CONINGSBY Book V 

he received a letter from his grandfather, informing 
him that after a variety of movements Lady Mon- 
mouth and himself were established in Paris for the 
season, and desiring that he would not fail to come 
over as soon as was practicable, and pay them as long 
a visit as the regulations of the University would 
permit. So, at the close of the December term, 
Coningsby quitted Cambridge for Paris. 

Passing through London, he made his first visit to 
his banker at Charing Cross, on whom he had periodi- 
cally drawn since he commenced his college life. He 
was in the outer counting-house, making some in- 
quiries about a letter of credit, when one of the 
partners came out from an inner room, and invited 
him to enter. This firm had been for generations 
the bankers of the Coningsby family ; and it ap- 
peared that there was a sealed box in their possession 
which had belonged to the father of Coningsby, am' 
they wished to take this opportunity of delivering 
to his son. This communication deeply interest 
him ; and as he was alone in London, at an hotel, 
on the wing for a foreign country, he requested 
mission at once to examine it, in order that he mi] 
again deposit it with them ; so he was shown int< 
private room for that purpose. The seal was brok< 
the box was full of papers, chiefly correspondence 
among them was a packet described as letters front 
* my dear Helen,' the mother of Coningsby. In the 
^_jnterior of this packet, there was a miniature of that 
mother. He looked at it ; put it down ; looked at 
it again and again. He could not be mistaken. 
There was the same blue fillet in the bright hair. It 
was an exact copy of that portrait which had so 
greatly excited his attention when at Millbank ! This 
was a mysterious and singularly perplexing incident. 

362 



I 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

It greatly agitated him. He was alone in the room 
when he made the discovery. When he had re- 
covered himself, he sealed up the contents of the box, 
with the exception of his mother's letters and the 
miniature, which he took away with him, and then 
re-delivered it to his banker for custody until his 
return. 

Coningsby found Lord and Lady Monmouth in a 
splendid hotel in the Faubourg St. Honore, near the 
English embassy. His grandfather looked at him 
with marked attention, and received him with evident 
satisfaction. Indeed Lord Monmouth was greatly 
pleased that Harry had come to Paris ; it was the 
University of the World, where everybody should 
graduate. Paris and London ought to be the great 
objects of all travellers ; the rest was mere landscape. 

It cannot be denied that between Lucretia and Con- 
ingsby there existed from the first a certain antipathy ; 
and though circumstances for a short time had ap- 
parently removed or modified the aversion, the 
manner of the lady when Coningsby was ushered into 
her boudoir, resplendent with all that Parisian taste 
and luxury could devise, was characterized by that 
frigid politeness which had preceded the days of their 
more genial acquaintance. If the manner of Lucretia 
were the same as before her marriage, a considerable 
change might however be observed in her appearance. 
Her fine form had become more developed ; while 
her dress, that she once totally neglected, was elabor- 
ate and gorgeous, and of the last mode. Lucretia 
was the fashion at Paris ; a great lady, greatly ad- 
mired. A guest under such a roof however, Con- 
ingsby was at once launched into the most brilliant 
circles of Parisian society, which he found fascinating. 

The art of society is, without doubt, perfectly com- 
3^3 



CONINGSBY Book V 

prehended and completely practised in the bright 
metropolis of France. An Englishman cannot enter 
a saloon without instantly feeling he is among a race 
more social than his compatriots. What, for ex- 
ample, is more consummate than the manner in which 
a French lady receives her guests ! She unites grace- 
ful repose and unaffected dignity, with the most ami- 
able regard for others. She sees every one ; she 
speaks to every one ; she sees them at the right 
moment ; she says the right thing. It is utterly im- 
possible to detect any difference in the position of her 
guests by the spirit in which she welcomes them. 
There is, indeed, throughout every circle of Parisian 
society, from the ' chateau ' to the ' cabaret,' a sincere 
homage to intellect ; and this without any maudlin 
sentiment. None sooner than the Parisians can draw 
the line between factitious notoriety and honest fame ; 
or sooner distinguish between the counterfeit cele- 
brity and the standard reputation. In England we 
too often alternate between a supercilious neglect 
genius and a rhapsodical pursuit of quacks. In Ei 
land, when a new character appears in our circles, 
first question always is, * Who is he .?' In France' 
is, * What is he ?' In England, ' How much a-year| 
In France, « What has he done ?' 

CHAPTER VIII 

About a week after Coningsby's arrival in Paris, as 
he was sauntering on the soft and sunny Boule- 
vards, soft and sunny though Christmas, he mc 
Sidonia. 

' So you are here .?' said Sidonia. ' Turn now with 
me, for I see you are only lounging, and tell me when 
you came, where you are, and what you have don* 

364 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

since we parted. I have been here myself but a few 
days.' 

There was much to tell. And when Coningsby 
had rapidly related all that had passed, they talked 
of Paris. Sidonia had offered him hospitality, until 
he learned that Lord Monmouth was at Paris, and 
that Coningsby was his guest. 

* I am sorry you cannot come to me,' he remarked ; 
* I would have shown you every body and every 
thing. But we shall meet often.' 

' I have already seen many remarkable things,' said 
Coningsby ; ' and met many celebrated persons. 
Nothing more strikes me in this brilliant city than 
the tone of its society, so much higher than our 
own. What an absence of petty personalities! 
How much conversation, and how little gossip ! Yet 
no where is there less pedantry. All women here as 
agreeable as is the remarkable privilege in London of 
some half dozen. Men too, and great men, develope 
their minds. A great man in England on the con- 
trary is generally the dullest dog in company. And 
yet how piteous to think that so fair a civilisation 
should be in such imminent peril.' 

' Yes ! that is a common opinion ; and yet I am 
somewhat sceptical of its truth,' replied Sidonia. * I 
am inclined to believe that the social system of Eng- 
land is in infinitely greater danger than that of France. 
We must not be misled by the agitated surface of 
this country. The foundations of its order are deep 
and sure. Learn to understand France. France is 
a Kingdom with a Republic for its capital. It has 
been always so, for centuries. From the days of the 
League to the days of the Sections, to the days of 
1830. It is still France, little changed; and only 
more national ; for it is less Frank and more Gallic ; 

365 



CONINGSBY Book V 



as England has become less Norman and more Saxon.' 
' And it is your opinion then, that the present King 
may maintain himself?' 

* Every movement in this country, however ap- 
parently discordant, seems to tend to that inevitable 
end. He would not be on the throne if the nature 
of things had not demanded his presence. The 
Kingdom of France required a Monarch ; the Re- 
public of Paris required a Dictator. He comprised 
in his person both qualifications ; lineage and intel- 
lect ; blood for the provinces, brains for the city.' 

' What a position ! what an individual ! ' ex- 
claimed Coningsby. ' Tell me,' he added eagerly, 
' what is he ? This Prince of whom one hears in all 
countries at all hours ; on whose existence we are 
told the tranquillity, almost the civilisation, of 
Europe depends, yet of whom we receive accounts so 
conflicting, so contradictory ; tell me, you who caa^ 
tell me, tell me what he is.*^' 

Sidonia smiled at his earnestness. ' I have a cre( 
of mine own,' he remarked, * that the great chj 
acters of antiquity are at rare epochs re-produced fi 
our wonder, or our guidance. Nature, wearied wit 
mediocrity, pours the warm metal into an hero! 
mould. When circumstances at length placed me 'i 
the presence of the King of France, I recognised- 
Ulysses !' 

* But is there no danger,' resumed Coningsby, afti 
the pause of a few moments, ' that the Republic 
Paris may absorb the Kingdom of France.'^' 

* X suspect the reverse,' replied Sidonia. ' Tl 
tendency of advanced civilisation is in truth to pur" 
Monarchy. Monarchy is indeed a government which 
requires a high degree of civilisation for its full 
development. It needs the support of free laws ai 

366 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 



ii 



manners, and of a widely diffused intelligence. 
Political compromises are not to be tolerated except 
at periods of rude transition. An educated nation 
recoils from the imperfect vicariate of what is called 
a representative government. Your House of Com- 
mons, that has absorbed all other powers in the State, 
will in all probability fall more rapidly than it rose. 
Public opinion has a more direct, a more comprehen- 
sive, a more efficient organ for its utterance, than a 
body of men sectionally chosen. The Printing Press 
is a political element unknown to classic or feudal 
times. It absorbs in a great degree the duties of the 
Sovereign, the Priest, the Parliament ; it controls, it 
educates, it discussess. That public opinion when it 
acts would appear in the form of one who has no class 
interests. In an enlightened age the Monarch on the 
throne, free from the vulgar prejudices and the cor- 
rupt interests of the subject, becomes again divine!' 

At this moment they reached that part of the 
Boulevard which leads into the Place of the Made- 
leine, whither Sidonia was bound ; and Coningsby 
was about to quit his companion, when Sidonia said : 

* I am only going to step over to the Rue Tronchet 

to say a few words to a friend of mine, M. P s. 

I shall not detain you five minutes ; and you should 
know him, for he has some capital pictures, and a 
collection of Limoges ware that is the despair of the 
dilettanti.' 

So saying they turned down by the Place of the 
Madeleine, and soon entered the court of the hotel of 

M. P s. That gentleman received them in his 

gallery. After some general conversation, Coningsby 
turned towards the pictures, and left Sidonia with 
their host. The collection was rare ; and interested 
Coningsby, though unacquainted with art. He 

367 



CONINGSBY Book V 



sauntered on from picture to picture until he reached 
the end of the gallery, where an open door invited 
him into a suite of rooms also full of pictures, and 
objects of curiosity and art. As he was entering a 
second chamber, he observed a lady leaning back in a 
cushioned chair, and looking earnestly on a picture. 
His entrance was unheard and unnoticed, for the 
lady's back was to the door ; yet Coningsby advanc- 
ing in an angular direction, obtained nearly a com- 
plete view of her countenance.- It was upraised, 
gazing on the picture with an expression of delight ; 
the bonnet thrown back, while the large sable cloak 
of the gazer had fallen partly off. The countenance 
was more beautiful than the beautiful picture. Those 
glowing shades of the gallery to which love, and 
genius, and devotion had lent their inspiration, 
seemed without life and lustre by the radiant and ex- 
pressive presence which Coningsby now beheld. 

The finely arched brow was a little elevated, the 
soft dark eyes were fully opened, the nostril of the 
delicate nose slightly dilated, the small, yet rich, full 
lips just parted ; and over the clear transparent visage 
there played a vivid glance of gratified intelligence^™ 

The lady rose, advanced towards the pictui^B 
looked at it earnestly for a few moments, and then 
turning in a direction opposite to Coningsby, walked 
away. She was somewhat above the middle stature, | 
and yet could scarcely be called tall ; a quality so j 
rare, that even skilful dancers do not often possess it, | 
was hers ; that elastic gait that is so winning, and so 
often denotes the gaiety and quickness of the spirit. 

The fair object of his observation had advanced 
into other chambers, and as soon as it was becoming, 
Coningsby followed her. She had joined a lady and 
gentleman, who were examining an ancient carvii 

368 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

in ivory. The gentleman was middle-aged and 
portly ; the elder lady tall and elegant, and with traces 
of interesting beauty. Coningsby heard her speak ; 
the words were English, but the accent not of a 
native. 

In the remotest part of the room, Coningsby ap- 
parently engaged in examining some of that famous 
Limoges ware of which Sidonia had spoken, watched 
with interest and intentness the beautiful being whom 
he had followed, and whom he concluded to be the 
child of her companions. After some little time, 
they quitted the apartment on their return to the 
gallery ; Coningsby remained behind, caring for none 
of the rare and fanciful objects that surrounded him, 
yet compelled, from the fear of seeming obtrusive, 
for some minutes to remain. Then he too returned 
to the gallery, and just as he had gained its end, he 
saw the portly gentleman in the^ distance shaking 
hands with Sidonia, the ladies apparently expressing 

their thanks and gratification to M. P s, and then 

all vanishing by the door through which Coningsby 
had originally entered. 

* What a beautiful coixntrywoman of yours ! ' said 
M. P s, as Coningsby approached him. 

' Is she my countrywoman ! I am glad to hear it ; 
I have been admiring her,' he replied. 

*Yes, ' said M. P s, * it is Sir W allinger j one 

of your deputies ; don't you Ichow himi" 

' Sir Wallinger ! ' said Coningsby, * no, I have not 
that honour.' He looked at Sidonia. 

* Sir Joseph Wallinger,' said Sidonia, * one of the 

new Whig baronets, and member for . I know 

mm. Tle^'imrFied;" a Spaniard. That is not his 
daughter but his niece ; the child of his wife's sister. 
It is not easy to find any one more beautiful.' 

2 A ^6^ 






BOOK VI 



CHAPTER I 



mlH 



The knowledge that Sidonia was at Paris greatly 
agitated Lady Monmouth. She received the intima- 
tion indeed from Coningsby at dinner with sufficient 
art to conceal her emotion. Lord Monmouth him- 
self was quite pleased at the announcement. Sidonia 
was his especial favourite ; he knew so much, had 
such an excellent judgment, and was so rich. He had 
always something to tell you, was the best man in 
the world to bet on, and never wanted anything. 
A perfect character according to the Monmou 
ethics. 

In the evening of the day that Coningsby 
Sidonia, Lady Monmouth made a little visit to the 

charming Duchess de G 1 who was ' at home ' 

every other night in her pretty hotel, with its em- 
broidered white satin draperies, its fine old cabinets, 
and ancestral portraits of famous name, brave ni: 
shals and bright princesses of the olden time, on its 
walls. These receptions without form, yet full of 
elegance, are what English ' at homes ' were before 
the Continental war, though now, by a curious per- 
version of terms, the easy domestic title distinguishes 
in England a formally prepared and elaborately col 
lected assembly, in which everything and every person 

370 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

are careful to be as little ' homely ' as possible. In 
France, on the contrary, 'tis on these occasions, and in 
this manner, that society carries on that degree and 
kind of intercourse which in England we attempt 
awkwardly to maintain by the medium of that un- 
popular species of visitation styled a morning call ; 
which all complain that they have either to make or 
to endure. 

Nowhere was this species of reception more happily 

conducted than at the Duchess de G 1. The 

rooms though small, decorated with taste, brightly 

illumined ; a handsome and gracious hostess, the 

Duke the very pearl of gentlemen, and sons and 

1 daughters worthy of such parents. Every moment 

: some one came in, and some one went away. In your 

I way from a dinner to a ball, you stopped to exchange 

j agreeable * on dits.' It seemed that every woman 

I was pretty, every man a wit. Sure you were to find 

I yourself surrounded by celebrities, and men were 

welcomed there if they were clever before they were 

.famous, which showed it was a house that regarded 

intellect, and did not seek merely to gratify its vanity 

by being surrounded by the distinguished. 

Enveloped in a rich Indian shawl and leaning back 
on a sofa, Lady Monmouth was engaged in con- 
versation with the courtly and classic Count M e, 

when on casually turning her head, she observed 
entering the saloon, Sidonia. She just caught his 
X)rm bowing to the Duchess, and instantly turned her 
lead and replunged into her conversation with in- 
reased interest. Lady Monmouth was a person who 
lad the power of seeing all about her, everything and 
'verybody, without appearing to look. She was con- 
■cious that Sidonia was approaching her neighbour- 
lood. Her heart beat in tumult ; she dreaded to 

371 






CONINGSBY Book VI 

catch the eye of that very individual whom she was 
so anxious to meet. He was advancing towards the 
sofa. Instinctively Lady Monmouth turned from 
the Count, and began speaking earnestly to her other 
neighbour, a young daughter of the house, innocent 
and beautiful, not yet quite fledged, trying her wings 
in society under the maternal eye. She was surprised 
by the extreme interest which her grand neighbour 
suddenly took in all her pursuits, her studies, her 
daily walks in the Bois de Boulogne. Sidonia, as the ' 
Marchioness had anticipated, had now reached the \ 
sofa. But no, it was to the Count and not to Lady | 
Monmouth that he was advancing ; and they werd j 
immediately engaged in conversation. After some ' 
little time when she had become accustomed to his 
voice, and found her own heart throbbing with less j 
violence, Lucretia turned again, as if by accident to 
the Count, and met the glance of Sidonia. She 
meant to have received him with haughtiness, 
but her self-command deserted her ; and slightly 
rising from the sofa, she welcomed him with a 
countenance of extreme pallor and with some 
awkwardness. 

His manner was such as might have assisted her, 
even had she been more troubled. It was marked by 
a degree of respectful friendliness. He expressed 
without reserve his pleasure at meeting her again ; 
inquired much how she had passed her time since they 
last parted ; asked more than once after the Marquess. 
The Count moved away ; Sidonia took his seat. His 
ease and homage combined very greatly relieved her. 
She expressed to him how kind her Lord would con- 
sider his society, for the Marquess had suffered in 
health since Sidonia last saw him. His periodical 
gout had left him, which made him ill and nervous. 

372 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

The Marquess received his friends at dinner every 
day. Sidonia particularly amiable, ofTered himself as 
a guest for the following one. 

'And do you go to the great ball to-morrow.^' 
inquired Lucretia, delighted with all that had 
occurred. 

' I always go to their balls,' said Sidonia, ' I have 
promised.' 

There was a momentary pause ; Lucretia, happier 
than she had been for a long time, her face a little 
flushed, and truly in a secret tumult of sweet 
thoughts, remembered she had been long there, and 
offering her hand to Sidonia, bade him adieu until 
to-morrow. While he, as was his custom, soon re- 
paired to the refined circle of the Countess de 
C — s — 1 — ne, a lady whose manners he always men- 
tioned as his fair ideal, and whose house was his 
favourite haunt. 

Before to-morrow comes, a word or two respecting 
two other characters of this history connected with 
the family of Lord Monmouth. And first of Flora. 
' La Petite ' was neither very well nor very happy. 
Her hereditary disease developed itself; gradually, 
but in a manner alarming to those who loved her. 
She was very delicate, and suffered so much from the 
weakness of her chest, that she was obliged to relin- 
quish singing. This was really the only tie between 
.her and the Marchioness, who without being a petty 
tyrant, treated her often with unfeeling haughtiness. 
She was therefore now rarely seen in the chambers of 
the great. In her own apartments she found indeed 
some distraction in music, for which she had a natural 
predisposition, but this was a pursuit that only fed 
the morbid passion of her tender soul. Alone, listen- 
ing only to sweet sounds, or indulging in soft dreams 

373 



K 



^^ ^1 

CONINGSBY Book VI 

that never could be realized, her existence glided 
away like a vision, and she seemed to become every 
day more fair and fragile. Alas! hers was the sad 
and mystic destiny to love one whom she never met, 
and by whom if she met him, she would scarcely 
perhaps be recognized. Yet in that passion, fanciful, 
almost ideal, her life was absorbed, nor for her did the 
world contain an existence, a thought, a sensation, 
beyond those that sprang from the image of the noble 
youth who had sympathized with her in her sorrows, 
and had softened the hard fortunes of dependence by 
his generous sensibility. Happy that with many 
mortifications, it was still her lot to live under the ] 
roof of one who bore his name, and in whose veins | 
flowed the same blood ! She felt indeed for the i 
Marquess, whom she so rarely saw, and from whom | 
she had never received much notice, prompted it 
would seem by her fantastic passion, a degree of revci- 
ence, almost of affection, which seemed occasionally 
even to herself as something inexplicable and withajg^jl 
reason. ^P 

As for her fond stepfather, M. Villebecque, the' 
world fared very differently with' Him: Hts" lively 
and enterprising genius, his ready and multiform 
talents, and his temper which defied disturbance, had 
made their way. He had become the very right hand 
of Lord Monmouth ; his only counsellor, his only 
confidant ; 1iis secret agent ; the minister of his will. 
And well did Villebecque deserve his trust, and ably 
did he maintain himself in the difficult position which 
he achieved. There was nothing which Villebecque 
did not know, nothing which he could not do, especi- 
ally at Paris. He was master of his subject ; in all 
things the secret of success, and without which how- 
ever they may from accident dazzle the world, the 

374 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 



statesman, the orator, the author, all alike feel the 
damning consciousness of being charlatans. 

Coningsby had made a visit to M. Villebecque and 
Flora the day after his arrival. It was a recollection 
and a courtesy that evidently greatly gratified them. 
Villebecque talked very much and amusingly ; and 
Flora, whom Coningsby frequently addressed, very 
little, though she listened with great earnestness. 
Coningsby told her that he thought from all he heard 
she was too much alone, and counselled her to gaiety. 
But nature that had made her mild, had denied her 
that constitutional liveliness of being which is the 
graceful property of French women. She was a lilly 
of the valley, that loved seclusion, and the tranquillity 
of virgin glades. Almost every day as he passed 
their entresol, Coningsby would look into Ville- 
becque's apartments for a moment to ask after Flora. 

CHAPTER II 

SiDONiA was to dine at Lord Monmouth's the day 
after he met Lucretia, and afterwards they were all to 
meet at a ball much talked of, and to which invita- 
tions were much sought ; and which was to be given 

that evening by the Baroness S. de R d. 

Lord Monmouth's dinners at Paris were celebrated. 
It was generally agreed that they had no rivals ; yet 
there were others who had as skilful cooks, others who 
for such a purpose were equally profuse in their ex- 
penditure. What then was the secret spell of his 
success ? The simplest in the world, though no one 
seemed aware of it. His Lordship's plates were 
always hot : whereas at Paris, in the best appointed 
houses, and at dinners, which for costly materials and 
admirable art in their preparation, cannot be sur- 

375 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

passed, the effect is always considerably lessened, and 
by a mode the most mortifying — by the mere circum- 
stance that every one at a French dinner is served on 
a cold plate. The reason of a custom, or rather a 
necessity, which one would think a nation so cele- 
brated for their gastronomical taste would recoil from, 
is really, it is believed, that the ordinary French porce- 
lain is so very inferior, that it cannot endure the 
preparatory heat for dinner. The common white pot- 
tery, for example, which is in general use, and always 
found at the cafes, will not bear vicinage to a brisk 
kitchen fire for half an hour. Now if we only had 
that treaty of commerce with France which has been 
so often on the point of completion, the fabrics of our 
unrivalled potteries, in exchange for their capital 
wines, would be found throughout France. The 
dinners of both nations would be improved : the 
English would gain a delightful beverage, and dj^ 
French for the first time in their lives would dine ^H 
hot plates. An unanswerable instance of the advan* 
tages of commercial reciprocity! 

The guests at Lord Monmouth's to-day were 
chiefly Carlists, individuals bearing illustrious names, 
that animate the page of history, and are indissolubly 
bound up with the glorious annals of their great 
country. They are the phantoms of a past, but real 
aristocracy ; an aristocracy that was founded on an 
intelligible principle ; which claimed great privileges 
for great purposes ; whose hereditary duties were 
such, that their possessors were perpetually in the eye 
of the nation, and who maintained and, in a certain 
point of view, justified their pre-eminence by con- 
stant illustration. 

It pleased Lord Monmouth to show great cour- 
tesies to a fallen race with whom he sympathized ; 

376 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

whose fathers had been his friends in the days of his 
hot youth ; whose mothers he had made love to ; 
whose palaces had been his home ; whose brilliant 
fetes he remembered ; whose fanciful splendour 
excited his early imagination ; and whose magnificent 
and wanton luxury had developed his own predisposi- 
tion for boundless enjoyment. Soubise and his sup- 
pers ; his cutlets and his mistresses ; the profuse and 
embarrassed De Laraguais, who sighed for ' entire 
ruin,' as for a strange luxury, which perpetually 
eluded his grasp ; these were the heroes of the olden 
time that Lord Monmouth worshipped ; the wisdom 
of our ancestors which he appreciated ; and he turned 
to their recollection for relief from the vulgar prud- 
ence of the degenerate days on which he had fallen : 
days when nobles must be richer than other men, or 
they cease to have any distinction. 

It was impossible not to be struck by the effective 
appearance of Lady Monmouth as she received her 
guests in grand toilet preparatory to the ball ; white 
satin and minever, a brilliant tiara. Her fine form, 
her costume of a fashion as perfect as its materials 
were sumptuous, and her presence always command- 
ing and distinguished, produced a general effect to 
which few could be insensible. It was the triumph of 
mien over mere beauty of countenance. 

The hotel of Madame S. de R d is not more 

distinguished by its profuse decoration, than by the 
fine taste which has guided the vast expenditure. Its 
halls of arabesque are almost without a rival ; there 
is not the slightest embellishment in which the hand 
and feeling of art are not recognized. The rooms 
were very crowded ; everybody distinguished in 
Paris was there : the lady of the Court, the duchess 
of the Faubourg, the wife of the rich financier, the 

377 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

constitutional Throne, the old Monarchy, the modern 
Bourse were alike represented. Marshals of the 
Empire, Ministers of the Crown, Dukes and Mar- 
quises, whose ancestors lounged in the CEil de Boeuf ; 
diplomatists of all countries, eminent foreigners of all 
nations, deputies who led sections, members of 
learned and scientific academies, occasionally a stray 
poet ; a sea of sparkling tiaras, brilliant bouquets, 
glittering stars, and glowing ribbands, many beautiful 
faces, many famous ones : unquestionably the general 
air of a first-rate Parisian saloon, on a great occasion, 
is not easily equalled. In London there is not the 
variety of guests ; nor the same size and splendour of 
saloons. Our houses are too small for reception. 

Coningsby, who had stolen away from his grand- 
father's before the rest of the guests, was delighted 
with the novelty of the splendid scene. He had 
been in Paris long enough to make some acquaint- 
ances, and mostly with celebrated personages. In his 
long-fruitless endeavour to enter the saloon in which 
they danced, he found himself hustled against 

illustrious Baron von H 1, whom he had sat m 

to at dinner a few days before at Count M e's 

' It is more difficult than cutting through the IstlP 
mus of Panama, Baron,' said Coningsby, alluding to 
a past conversation. 

* Infinitely,' replied M. de H., smiling; * for 1 
would undertake to cut through the Isthmus, and I 
cannot engage that I shall enter this ball-room.' 

Time however brought Coningsby into that 
brilliant chamber. What a blaze of light and loveli- 
ness! How coquettish are the costumes! How 
vivid the flowers! To sounds of stirring melody, 
beautiful beings move with grace. Grace indeed is 
beauty in action. 

378 



iich 

I 



I 



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Chapter II CONINGSBY 

Here where all are fair and everything is attractive, 
his eye is suddenly arrested by one object — a form of 
surpassing grace among the graceful, among the 
beauteous, a countenance of unrivalled beauty. 

She was young among the youthful ; a face of 
sunshine amid all that artificial light ; her head placed 
upon her finely moulded shoulders with a queen-like 
grace ; a coronet of white roses on her dark brown 
hair ; her only ornament. It was the beauty of the 
picture gallery. 

The eye of Coningsby never quitted her. When 
the dance ceased, he had an opportunity of seeing her 
nearer. He met her walking with her cavalier, and 
he was conscious that she observed him. Finally, he 
remarked that she resumed a seat next to the lady, 
whom he had mistaken for her mother, but had after- 
wards understood to be Lady Wallinger. 

Coningsby returned to the other saloons ; he wit- 
nessed the entrance and reception of Lady Mon- 
mouth, who moved on towards the ball-room. Soon 
after this, Sidonia arrived ; he came in with the still 
handsome and ever courteous Duke D s. Ob- 
serving Coningsby, he stopped to present him to the 
Duke. While thus conversing, the Duke, who is 
very fond of the English, observed : ' See, here is 
your beautiful countrywoman, that all the world are 
talking of. That is her uncle. He brings to me 
letters from one of your lords, whose name I cannot 
recollect.' 

And Sir Joseph and his lovely niece veritably ap- 
proached. The Duke addressed them : asked them 
in the name of his Duchess to a concert on the next 
Thursday ; and after a thousand compliments moved 
on. Sidonia stopped ; Coningsby could not refrain 
from lingering, but stood a little apart, and was about 

379 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

to move away, when there was a whisper, of which, 
without hearing a word, he could not resist the im- 
pression that he was the subject. He felt a Dttle 
embarrassed, and was retiring, when he heard Sidonia 
reply to an inquiry of the lady. ' The same,' and 
then turning to Coningsby, said aloud : ' Coningsbv. 
Miss Millbank says that you have forgotten her.' 

Coningsby started, advanced, coloured a little, 
could not conceal his surprise. The lady too though 
more prepared, was not without confusion, and for an 
instant looked down. Coningsby recalled at that 
moment the long dark eye-lashes and the beautiful, 
bashful, countenance that had so charmed him at Mill- 
bank ; but two years had otherwise effected a 
wonderful change in the sister of his school-day 
friend, and transformed the silent, embarrassed girl 
into a woman of surpassing beauty and of the mr - 
graceful and impressive mien. 

' It is not surprising that Mr. Coningsby should 
not recollect my niece,' said Sir Joseph addressi( 
Sidonia, and wishing to cover their mutual embarn 
ment ; ' but it is impossible for her or for any 
connected with her, not to be anxious at all tii 
to express to him our sense of what we all 
him.' 

Coningsby and Miss Millbank were now in fill 
routine conversation, consisting of questions ; how 
long she had been at Paris ; when she had heard last 
from Millbank ; how her father was ; also, how was 
her brother. Sidonia made an observation to S'*- 
Joseph on a passer-by, and then himself moved o> 
Coningsby accompanying his new friends in a co 
trary direction, to the refreshment room to which thc> 
were proceeding. 

' And you have passed a winter at Rome,' said 
380 



Chapter II CXININGSBY 

3ningsbv. * How I envy you ! I feel that I shall 

ver be able to travel!^ 

' And why not?' 

' Life has become so stirring, that there is ever 
some great cause that keeps one at home.' 

' Life, on the contray, so swift, that all mav see 
now that of which they once could only read.' 

' The gold and silver sides of the shield,' said 
Coningsby with a smile. 

* And you, Hke a good knight will maintain your 
own.' 

' No, I would follow yours.' 

^ You have not heard lately from Oswald .^' 

* Oh, yes ; I think there are no such faithful cor- 
respondents as we are ; I only wish we could meet.' 

* You will soon ; but he is such a devotee of 
Oxford ; quite a monk ; and vou, too, Mr. Conings- 
by are much occupied.' 

' Yes, and at the same time as MiUbank. I was in 
fcopes when I once paid you a visit, I might have 
feund your brother.' 

* But that was such a rapid visit,' said Miss Mill- 
bank. 

* I alwavs remember it with delight,' said 
Coningsb^ 

' You were wmmg to be pleased ; but MiUbank 
ftotwithstanding Rome commands my affections, and 
m spite of this surrounding splendour, I could have 
wished to have passed my Christmas in Lancashire. 

* Mr. MiUbank has lately purchased a var\' beauti- 
ful place in the county. I became acquainted with 
Hellingslev when staying at my grandfather's.' 

* Ah ! I have never seen it ; indeed, I was very 
uch surprised that papa became its purchaser, be- 

^ uise he never will live there ; and Oswald I am sure 

3S1 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

could never be tempted to quit Millbank. You 
know what enthusiastic ideas he has of his order?' 

' Like all his ideas ; sound, and high, and pure. 
I always duly appreciated your brother's great abili- 
ties, and what is far more important, his lofty mind. 
When I recollect our Eton days, I cannot understand 
how more than two years have passed away without 
our being together. I am sure the fault is mine. I 
might now have been at Oxford instead of Paris. 
And, yet,' added Coningsby, ' that would have been 
a sad mistake, since I should not have had the happi- 
ness of being here.' 

* Oh, yes, that would have been a sad mistake,' said 
Miss Millbank. 

* Edith,' said Sir Joseph, rejoining his niece, from 
whom he had been momentarily separated, ' Edith, 
that is Monsieur Thiers.' 

In the meantime Sidonia reached the ball-room, 
and sitting near the entrance was Lady Monmouth, 
who immediately addressed him. He was as us 
intelligent and unimpassioned, and yet not withou 
delicate deference which is flattering to wom 
especially if not altogether unworthy of it. Sidoni 
always admired Lucretia, and preferred her society to 
that of most persons. But the lady was in error in 
supposing that she had conquered or could vanquish 
his heart. Sidonia was one of those men, not so rare 
as may be supposed, who shrink above all things from 
an adventure of gallantry with a woman in a position. 
He had neither time nor temper for sentimental cir- 
cumvolutions. He detested the diplomacy of pas- 
sion : protocols, protracted negociations, conferences, 
correspondence, treaties projected, ratified, violated. 
He had no genius for the tactics of intrigue ; your 
reconnoiterings, and marchings, and counter-mar 

382 



Lth, 

il 

nuW 



I 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

ings, sappings and minings, assaults, sometimes sur- 
renders and sometimes repulses. All the solemn and 
studied hypocrisies were to him infinitely wearisome ; 
and if the movements were not merely formal, they 
irritated him, distracted his feelings, disturbed the 
tenor of his mind, deranged his nervous system. 
Something of the old Oriental vein influenced him in 
his carriage towards women. He was oftener behind 
the scenes of the Opera House than in his box ; he 
delighted too in the society of tjraipai ; Aspasia 
was his heroine. Obliged to appear much in what is 
esteemed pure society, he cultivated the acquaintance 
of clever women because they interested him ; but in 
such saloons his feminine acquaintances were merely 
psychological. No lady could accuse him of trifling 
with her feelings, however decided might be his pre- 
dilection for her conversation. He yielded at once 
to an admirer ; never trespassed by any chance into 
the domain of sentiment ; never broke by any acci- 
dent of blunder into the irregular paces of flirtation ; 
was a man who notoriously would never diminish by 
marriage the purity of his race ; and one who always 
maintained that passion and polished life were quite 
incompatible. He liked the drawing-room, and he 
liked the desart, but he would not consent that either 
should trench on their mutual privileges. 

The Princess Lucretia had yielded herself to the 
spell of Sidonia's society at Coningsby Castle, when 
she knew that marriage was impossible. But she 
loved him; and with an Italian spirit. Now they 
met again and she was the Marchioness of Mon- 
mouth, a very great lady, very much admired, and 
followed, and courted, and very powerful. It is our 
great moralist who tells us in the immortal page that 
an afl^"air of gallantry with a great lady is more de- 

383 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

lightflil than with ladies of a lower degree. In this 
he contradicts the good old ballad ; but certain it is, 
that Dr. Johnson announced to Boswell, ' Sir, in the 
case of a Countess the imagination is more excited.' 

But Sidonia was a man on whom the conventional 
superiorities of life produced as little effect as a flake 
falling on the glaciers of the High Alps. His com- 
prehension of the world and human nature was too 
vast and complete ; he understood too well the rela- 
tive value of things, to appreciate anything but 
essential excellence ; and that not too much. A 
charming woman was not more charming to him be- 
cause she chanced to be an empress in a particular 
district of one of the smallest planets ; a charming 
woman under any circumstances was not an unique 
animal. When Sidonia felt a disposition to be spell- 
bound, he used to review in his memory all the 
charming women of whom he had read in the books 
of all literatures, and whom he had known himself in 
every court and clime, and the result of his reflections 
ever was, that the charming woman in question was 
by no means the paragon, which some who had read, 
seen, and thought less, might be inclined to esteem 
her. There was indeed no subject on which Sidonia 
discoursed so felicitously as on woman : nor none on 
which Lord Eskdale more frequently endeavoured to 
attract him. He would tell you Talmudical stories 
about our mother Eve and the Queen of Sheba which 
would have astonished you. There was not a free 
lady of Greece ; Leontium and Phryne, Lais, Danae, 
and Lamia ; the Egyptian girl Thonis ; respecting 
whom he could not tell you as many diverting tales 
as if they were ladies of Loretto ; not a nook of 
Athenaeus, not an obscure scholiast, not a passage in a 
Greek orator, which could throw light on these per- 

3S4 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 



sonages, which was not at his command. What 
stories he would tell you about Marc Anthony and the 
actress Cytheris in their chariot drawn by tigers! 
What a character would he paint of that Flora who 
gave her gardens to the Roman people! It would 
draw tears to your eyes. No man was ever so learned 
in the female manners of the last centuries of poly- 
theism as Sidonia. You would have supposed that 
he had devoted his studies peculiarly to that period, 
if you had not chanced to draw him to the Italian 
middle ages. And even those startling revelations 
were almost eclipsed by his anecdotes of the Court of 
Henry III. of France, with every character of which 
he was as familiar as with the brilliant groups that at 
this moment filled the saloons of Madame de R d. 

CHAPTER III 

The image of Edith Millbank was the last thought 
of Coningsby as he sank into an agitated slumber. 
To him had hitherto in general been accorded the 
precious boon of dreamless sleep. Homer tells us 
these phantasmas come from Jove ; they are rather 
the children of a distracted soul. Coningsby this 
night lived much in past years, varied by painful 
perplexities of the present, which he could neither 
subdue, nor comprehend. The scene flitted from 
Eton to the castle of his grandfather ; and then he 
found himself among the pictures of the Rue de 
Tronchet, but their owner bore the features of the 
senior Millbank. A beautiful countenance that was 
alternately the face in the mysterious picture, and 
then that of Edith, haunted him under all circum- 
stances. He woke little refreshed ; restless and yet 
sensible of some secret joy. 

2B 385 



i 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

He woke to think of her of whom he had dreamed. 
The light had dawned on his soul. Coningsby 
loved. 

Ah ! what is that ambition, that haunts our youth 
— that thirst for power or that lust of fame, that 
forces us from obscurity into the sun-blaze of the 
world — what are these sentiments so high, so vehe- 
ment, so ennobling! They vanish, and in an in- 
stant, before the glance of a woman ! 

Coningsby had scarcely quitted her side the pre- 
ceding eve. He hung upon the accents of that clear 
sv/eet voice, and sought with tremulous fascination, 
the gleaming splendour of those soft dark eyes. And 
now he sat in his chamber with his eyes fixed upon 
vacancy. All thoughts and feelings, pursuits, de- 
sires, life, merge in one absorbing sentiment. 

It is impossible to exist without seeing her again, 
and instantly. He had requested and gained per- 
mission to call on Lady Wallinger ; he would not 
lose a moment in availing himself of it. As early 
as was tolerably decorous, and before in all probabil- 
ity they could quit their hotel, Coningsby repaired 
to the Rue de Rivoli to pay his respects to his new 
friends. 

As he walked along, he indulged in fanciful specu- 
lations which connected Edith and the mysterious 
portrait of his mother. He felt himself as it were, 
near the fulfilment of some fate, and on the threshold 
of some critical discovery. He recalled the impa- 
tient, even alarmed, expressions of Rigby at Mon- 
tem six years ago, when he proposed to invite yout 
Millbank to his grandfather's dinner ; the vindictive 
feud that existed between the two families ; and for 
which political opinion, or even party passion could 
not satisfactorily account ; and he reasoned himself 

386 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

into a conviction, that the solution of many perplexi- 
ties was at hand, and that all would be consummated 
to the satisfaction of every one, by his unexpected but 
inevitable agency. 

Coningsby found Sir Joseph alone. The worthy 
Baronet was at any rate no participator in Mr. Mill- 
bank's vindictive feelings against Lord Monmouth. 
On the contrary, he had a very high respect for a 
Marquess, whatever might be his opinions, and no 
mean consideration for a Marquess' grandson. Sir 
Joseph had inherited a large fortune made by com- 
merce, and had increased it by the same means. He 
was a middle-class Whig, had faithfully supported 
that party in his native town during the days they 
wandered in the wilderness, and had well earned his 
share of the milk and honey when they vanquished 
the promised land. In the spring-tide of Liberalism, 
when the world was not analytical of free opinions, 
and odious distinctions were not drawn between Fin- 
ality men and progressive Reformers, Mr. Wallinger 
had been the popular leader of a powerful body of 
his fellow citizens, who had returned him to the first 
Reform Parliament, and where in spite of many a 
menacing Registration, he had contrived to remain. 
He had never given a Radical vote without the per- 
; mission of the Secretary of the Treasury ; and was 
not afraid of giving an unpopular one to serve his 
; friends. He was not like that distinguished Liberal, 
who after dining with the late Whig Premier 
expressed his gratification and his gratitude by assur- 
ing his Lordship that he might count on his support 
on all popular questions. 

' I want men who will support the government on 
all unpopular questions,' replied the witty states- 
man. 

387 



CONIxNGSBY Book VI 

Mr. Wallinger was one of these men. His high 
character and strong purse were always in the front 
rank in the hour of danger. His support in the 
house was limited to his votes ; but in other places 
equally important, at a meeting at a political club, or 
in Downing Street, he could find his tongue, take 
what is called a ' practical ' view of a question, adopt 
what is called an * independent tone,' re-animate con- 
fidence in ministers, check mutiny, and set a bright 
and bold example to the wavering. A man of his 
property, and high character, and sound views, so 
practical and so independent — this was, evidently, 
the block from which a Baronet should be cut, and in 
due time he figured Sir Joseph. 

A Spanish gentleman, of very ample means, and 
of a very good Catalan family, flying during a politi- 
cal convulsion to England, arrived with his two 
daughters at Liverpool, and bore letters of introduc- 
tion to the house of Wallinger. Some little 
time after this, by one of those stormy vicissi- 
tudes of political fortune, of late years not un- 
usual in the Peninsula, he returned to his 
native country, and left his children and the 
management of that portion of his fortune 
that he had succeeded in bringing with him, under 
the guardianship of the father of the present Sir 
Joseph. This gentleman was about again to becoi 
an exile, when he met with an untimely end in one 
of those terrible tumults of which Barcelona is the 
frequent scene. 

The younger Wallinger was touched by the charms 
of one of his father's wards. Her beauty, of a char- 
acter to which he was unaccustomed, her accomplish- 
ments of society, and the refinement of her manners 
conspicuous in the circle in which he lived, captivated 

388 ^ 



I 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

him ; and though they had no heir, the union had 
been one of great felicity. Sir Joseph was proud of 
his wife ; he secretly considered himself, though his 
' tone ' was as liberal and independent as in old days, 
to be on the threshold of aristocracy, and was con- 
scious that Lady Wallinger played her part not 
unworthily in the elevated circles in which they now 
frequently found themselves. Sir Joseph was fond 
of great people ; and not averse to travel ; because 
bearing a title and being a member of the British 
Parliament, and always moving with the appendages 
of wealth, servants, and carriages, and couriers, and 
fortified with no lack of letters from the Foreign 
Office, he was everywhere acknowledged and re- 
ceived, and treated as a personage ; was invited to 
court balls, dined with ambassadors, and found him- 
self and his lady at every festival of distinction. 

The elder Millbank had been Joseph Wallinger's 
youthful friend. Different as were their disposi- 
tions and the rate of their abilities, their political 
i opinions were the same; and commerce habitually 
connected their interests. During a visit to Liver- 
pool, Millbank had made the acquaintance of the 
sister of Lady Wallinger, and had been a successful 
isuitor for her hand. This lady was the mother of 
Edith, and of the school-fellow of Coningsby. It 
was only within a very few years that she had died ; 
ishe had scarcely lived long enough to complete the 
education of her daughter, to whom she was devoted, 
ind on whom she lavished the many accomplishments 
:hat she possessed. Lady Wallinger having no chil- 
iren, and being very fond of her niece, had watched 
)ver Edith with infinite solicitude, and finally had 
)ersuaded Mr. Millbank that it would be well that 
lis daughter should accompany them in their some- 

3^9 






CONINGSBY Book VI 

what extensive travels. It was not therefore only 
that nature had developed a beautiful woman out of 
a bashful girl since Coningsby's visit to Millbank ; 
but really, every means and every opportunity that 
could contribute in rendering an individual capable 
of adorning the most accomplished circles of life had 
naturally, and without effort, fallen to the fortunate 
lot of the manufacturer's daughter. Edith possessed 
an intelligence equal to those occasions. Without 
losing the native simplicity of her character, which 
sprang from the heart, and which the strong and 
original bent of her father's mind had fostered, she 
had imbibed all the refinement and facility of the 
polished circles in which she moved. She had a 
clear head, a fine taste, and a generous spirit ; had 
received so much admiration, that, though by no 
means insensible to homage, her heart was free ; was 
strongly attached to her family ; and notwithstanding 
all the splendour of Rome and the brilliancy of Paris, 
her thoughts were often in her Saxon valley, amid 
the green hills and busy factories of Millbank. 

Sir Joseph, finding himself alone with the grand- 
son of Lord Monmouth, was not very anxious that 
the ladies should immediately appear. He thought 
this a very good opportunity of getting at what he j 
called * the real feelings of the Tory party ;' and he I 
began to pump with a seductive semblance of frank- ' 
ness. For his part, he had never doubted that a 
Conservative government was ultimately inevitable; 
had told Lord John so two years ago, and between 
themselves Lord John was of the same opinion. The 
present position of the Whigs was the necessary fate j 
of all progressive parties ; could not see exactly h( 
it would end ; thought sometimes it must end 
fusion of parties ; but could not well see how 

390 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

could be brought about, at least at present. For his 
part, should be very happy to witness an union of 
the best men of all parties, for the preservation of 
peace and order, without any reference to any par- 
ticular opinions. And, in that sense of the word, it 
was not at all impossible he might find it his duty 
some day to support a Conservative government. 

Sir Joseph was very much astonished when Con- 
ingsby, who being somewhat impatient for the 
entrance of the ladies was rather more abrupt than 
his wont, told the worthy Baronet that he looked 
upon a government without distinct principles of jj 
policy, as only a stop-gap to a wide-spread and de- if 
moralizing anarchy ; that he for one could not com- ^ 
prehend how a free government could endure with- 
out national opinions to uphold it ; and that govern- 
ments for the preservation of peace and order, and 
nothing else, had better be sought in China, or 
among the Austrians, the Chinese of Europe. As 
for Conservative government, the natural question 
was, What do you mean to conserve ? Do you mean 
to conserve things or only names, realities or merely 
appearances ? Or, do you mean to continue the sys- 
tem commenced in 1834, and, with a hypocritical 
reverence for the principles, and a superstitious 
adhesion to the forms, of the old exclusive constitu- 
tion, carry on your policy by latitudinarian practice ? 

Sir Joseph stared ; it was the first time that any 
inkling of the n ews of the N ew Generation had 
caught his eaf: 1 hey were TtTange"^ and unacciis- 
tomed accents. He was extremely perplexed ; could 
by no means make out what his companion was driv- 
ing at; at length, with a rather knowing smile, 
expressive as much of compassion as comprehension, 
he remarked : 

391 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

* Ah ! I see ; you are a regular Orangeman.' 

' I look upon an Orangeman,' said Coningsby, ' as 
a pure Whig ; the only professor and practiser of 
unadulterated Whiggism.' 

This was too much for Sir Joseph, whose political 
knowledge did not reach much further back than the 
ministry of the Mediocrities; hardly touched the 
times of the Corresponding Society. But he was a 
cautious man, and never replied in haste. He was 
about feeling his way, when he experienced the 
golden advantage of gaining time, for the ladies 
entered. 

The heart of Coningsby throbbed as Edith 
appeared. She extended to him her hand ; her face 
radiant with kind expression. Lady Wallinger 
seemed gratified also by his visit. She had much 
elegance in her manner ; a calm soft address ; and 
she spoke English with a sweet doric irregularity. 
They all sat down, talked of the last night's ball, of 
a thousand things. There was something animating 
in the frank, cheerful, spirit of Edith. She had a 
quick eye both for the beautiful and the ridiculous, 
and threw out her observations in terse and vivid 
phrases. An hour, and more than an hour, passed 
away, and Coningsby still found some excuse not to 
depart. It seemed that on this morning they were 
about to make an expedition into the antique city of 
Paris to visit some old hotels which retained their 
character ; especially they had heard much of the 
hotel of the Archbishop of Sens, with its fortified 
courtyard. Coningsby expressed great interest iti 
the subject, and showed some knowledge. Sir 
Joseph invited him to join the party, which of all 
things in the world was what he most desired. 



392 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 



CHAPTER IV 

Not a day elapsed without Coningsby being in the 
company of Edith. Time was precious for him, for 
the spires and pinnacles of Cambridge already began 
to loom in the distance, and he resolved to make the 
most determined efforts not to lose a day of his 
liberty. And yet to call every morning in the Rue 
de Rivoli, was an exploit which surpassed even the 
audacity of love! More than once, making the 
attempt, his courage failed him, and he turned into 
the gardens of the Tuileries, and only watched the 
windows of the house. Circumstances however 
favoured him : he received a letter from Oswald Mill- 
bank ; he was bound to communicate in person this 
evidence of his friend's existence ; and when he had 
to reply to the letter, he must necessarily inquire 
whether his friend's relatives had any message to 
transmit to him. These however were only slight 
advantages. What assisted Coningsby in his plans 
and wishes was the great pleasure which Sidonia, 
with whom he passed a great deal of his time, took 
in the society of the Wallingers and their niece. 
Sidonia presented Lady Wallinger with his opera- 
box during her stay at Paris ; invited them very 
frequently to his agreeable dinner parties ; and 
announced his determination to give a ball, which 
Lady Wallinger esteemed a delicate attention to 
Edith ; while Lady Monmouth flattered herself that 
the festival sprang from the desire she had expressed 
of seeing the celebrated hotel of Sidonia to advan- 
tage. 

Coningsby was very happy. His morning visits 
to the Rue de Rivoli seemed always welcome, and 

393 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

seldom an evening elapsed in which he did not find 
himself in the society of Edith. She seemed not to 
wish to conceal that his presence gave her pleasure, 
and though she had many admirers and had an airy 
graciousness for all of them, Coningsby sometimes 
indulged the exquisite suspicion that there was a 
flattering distinction in her carriage to himself. 
Under the influence of these feelings, he began daily 
to be more conscious that separation would be an 
intolerable calamity ; he began to meditate upon the 
feasibility of keeping a half term, and of postponing 
his departure to Cambridge to a period nearer the 
time when I^dith would probably return to England. 

In the meanwhile the Parisian world talked much 
of the grand fete which was about to be given by 
Sidonia. Coningsby heard much of it one day when 
dining at his grandfather's. Lady Monmouth 
seemed very intent on the occasion. Even Lord 
Monmouth half talked of going, though for his part 
he wished people would come to him, and never ask 
him to their houses. That was his idea of society. 
He liked the world, but he liked to find it under his 
own roof. He grudged them nothing, so that they 
would not insist upon the reciprocity of cold-catch- 
ing, and would eat his good dinners instead of insist- 
ing on his eating their bad ones. 

' But Monsieur Sidonia's cook is a gem, they say,' 
observed an attache of an Embassy. 

' I have no doubt of it : Sidonia is a man 
of sense, almost the only man of sense I 
know. I never caught him tripping. He never 
makes a false move. Sidonia is exactly the sort of 
man I like ; you know you cannot deceive him, and 
that he does not want to deceive you. I wish he 
liked a rubber more. Then he would be perfect.' 

394 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

* They say he is going to be married,' said the 
Attach^. 

'Poh!' said Lord Monmouth. 

'Married?' exclaimed Lady Monmouth. 'To 
whom ?^ 

' To your beautiful country woman ; " la belle 
Anglaise " that all the world talks of,' said the 
Attache. 

' And who may she be, pray .f^' said the Marquess. 
' I have so many beautiful country women.' 

' Mademoiselle Millbank,' said the Attach^. 

' Millbank,' said the Marquess with a lowering 
brow. ' There are so many Millbanks. Do you 
know what Millbank this is, Harry .f" he inquired of 
his grandson, who had listened to the conversation 
with a rather embarrassed, and even agitated spirit. 

' What, sir — yes — Millbank ?' said Coningsby. 

' I say, do you know who this Millbank is.^' 

' Oh ! Miss Millbank : yes, I believe, that is I 
know a daughter of the — the gentleman who pur- 
chased some property near you.' 

' Oh ! that fellow ! Has he got a daughter here ! ' 

' The most beautiful girl in Paris,' said the At- 
tache. 

' Lady Monmouth, have you seen this beauty ? — 
That Sidonia is going to marry,' he added with a 
fiendish laugh. 

' I have seen the young lady,' said Lady Mon- 
mouth ; ' but I had not heard that Monsieur Sidonia 
was about to marry her.' 

' Is she so very beautiful .?' inquired another gentle- 
man. 

' Yes,' said Lady Monmouth calm, but very pale. 

' Poh ! ' said the Marquess again. 

' I assure you that it is a fact,' said the Attache ; 
395 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

* not at least an on-dit. I have it from a quarter that 
could not be well mistaken.' 

Behold a little snatch of ordinary dinner gossip 
that left a very painful impression on the minds of 
three individuals who were present. 

The name of Millbank revived in Lord Mon- 
mouth's mind a sense of defeat, discomfiture, and 
disgust ; Hellingsley, lost elections, and Mr. Rigby ; 
three subjects which Lord Monmouth had succeeded 
for a time in expelling from his sensations. His Lord- 
ship thought that in all probability this beauty of 
whom they spoke so highly was not really the 
daughter of his foe ; that it was some confusion 
which had arisen from the similarity of names ; nor 
did he believe that Sidonia was going to marry her, 
whoever she might be ; but a variety of things had 
been said at dinner, and a number of images had been 
raised in his mind that touched his spleen. He took 
his wine freely, and, the usual consequence of that 
proceeding with Lord Monmouth, became silent and 
sullen. As for Lady Monmouth she had learnt that 
Sidonia whatever might be the result was paying 
very marked attention to another woman, for whom 
undoubtedly he was giving that very ball which she 
had flattered herself was a homage to her wishes, and 
for which she had projected a new dress of eclipsing 
splendour. 

Coningsby felt quite sure that the story of Sid- 
onia's marriage with Edith was the most ridiculous 
idea that ever entered into the imagination of man ; 
at least he thought he felt quite sure. But the idlest 
and wildest report that the woman you love is about 
to marry another is not comfortable. Besides he 
could not conceal from himself that between the Wal- 
lingers and Sidonia there existed a remarkable inti- 

396 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

macy, fully extended to their niece. He had seen 
her certainly on more than one occasion in length- 
ened, and apparently earnest conversation with 
Sidonia, who, by the bye, spoke with her often in 
Spanish and never concealed his admiration of her 
charms nor the interest he found in her society. And 
Edith — what, after all, had passed between Edith 
and himself, which should at all gainsay this report, 
which he had been particularly assured was not a 
mere report, but came from a quarter that could not 
be well mistaken ? She had received him with kind- 
ness. And how should she receive one, who was the 
friend and preserver of her only brother, and appar- 
ently the intimate and cherished acquaintance of her 
future husband.^ Coningsby felt that sickness of 
the heart that accompanies one's first misfortune. 
The illusions of life seemed to dissipate and disap- 
pear. He was miserable ; he had no confidence in 
himself, in his future. After all, what was he? A 
dependent on a m.an of very absolute will and pas- 
sions. Could he forget the glance with which Lord 
Monmouth caught the name of Millbank and re- 
ceived the intimation of Hellingsley .^^ It was a 
glance for a Spagnoletto, or a Caravaggio to catch 
and immortalize. Why if Edith were not going to 
marry Sidonia, how was he ever to marry her, even 
if she cared for him.? Oh! what a future of un- 
broken, continuous, interminable misery awaited 
him! Was there ever yet born a being with a des- 
tiny so dark and dismal! He was the most forlorn 
of men, utterly wretched! He had entirely mis- 
taken his own character. He had no energy, no 
abilities, not a single eminent quality. All was 
over I 



397 



CONINGSBY Book VI 



CHAPTER V 

It was fated that Lady Monmouth should not be 
present at that ball, the anticipation of which 
had occasioned her so much pleasure and some 
pangs. 

On the morning after that slight conversation, 
which had so disturbed the souls, though uncon- 
sciously to each other, of herself and Coningsby, the 
Marquess was driving Lucretia up the avenue 
Marigny in his phaeton. About the centre of the 
avenue, the horses took fright, and started off at a 
wild pace. The Marquess was an experienced whip, 
calm and with exertion still very powerful. He 
would have soon mastered the horses, had not one of 
the reins unhappily broke. The horses swerved ; 
the Marquess kept his seat ; Lucretia alarmed sprang 
up, the carriage was dashed against the trunk of a 
tree, and she was thrown out of it, at the very instant 
that one of the outriders had succeeded in heading 
the equipage, and checking the horses. 

The Marchioness was senseless. Lord Monmouth 
had descended from the phaeton ; several passengers 
had assembled ; the door of a contiguous house was 
opened ; there were offers of service, sympathy, in- 
quiries, a babble of tongues, great confusion. 

' Get surgeons ; and send for her maid,' said Lord 
Monmouth to one of his servants. 

In the midst of this distressing tumult, Sidonia on 
horseback followed by a groom, came up the avenue 
fi-om the Champs Elys^es. The empty phaeton, 
reins broken, horses held by strangers, all the appear- 
ances of a misadventure, attracted him. He recog- 
nized the livery. He instantly dismounted. Mov- 

398 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

ing aside the crowd, he perceived Lady Monmouth 
senseless and prostrate, and her husband, without 
assistance, restraining the injudicious efforts of the 
bye-standers. 

' Let us carry her in. Lord Monmouth,' said 
Sidonia, exchanging a recognition as he took Lucretia 
in his arms, and bore her into the dwelling that was at 
hand. Those who were standing at the door assisted 
him. The woman of the house and Lord Mon- 
mouth only were present. 

' I would hope there is no fracture,' said Sidonia, 
placing her on a sofa, ' nor does it appear to me that 
the percussion of the head, though considerable, could 
have been fatally violent. I have caught her pulse. 
Keep her in a horizontal position and she will soon 
come to herself.' 

The Marquess seated himself in a chair by the side 
of the sofa which Sidonia had advanced to the middle 
of the room. Lord Monmouth was silent and very 
serious. Sidonia opened the window, and touched 
the brow of Lucretia with water. At this moment 
M. Villebecque and a surgeon entered the chamber. 

' The brain cannot be affected with that pulse,' 
said the surgeon ; ' there is no fracture.' 

' How pale she is ! ' said Lord Monmouth as if he 
were examining a picture. 

' The colour seems to me to return,' said 
Sidonia. 

The surgeon applied some restoratives which he 
had brought with him. The face of the Marchioness 
became more animated ; she stirred. 

' She revives,' said the surgeon. 

The Marchioness breathed with some force ; again ; 
then half opened her eyes, and then instantly closed 
them. 

399 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

' If I could but get her to take this draught!' said 
the surgeon. 

' Stop — moisten her lips first,' said Sidonia. 

They placed the draught to her mouth ; in a 
moment, she put forth her hand as if to repress them, 
then opened her eyes again, and sighed. 

' She is herself,' said the surgeon. 

* Lucretia,' said the Marquess. 

' Sidonia,' said the Marchioness. 

Lord Monmouth looked round to invite his friend 
to come forward. 

' Lady Monmouth ! ' said Sidonia in a gentle voice. 

She started, rose a little on the sofa, stared around 
her. ' Where am I .'^' she exclaimed. 

' With me,' said the Marquess, and he bent for- 
ward to her, and took her hand. 

' Sidonia ! ' she again exclaimed in a voice of 
inquiry. 

* Is here,' said Lord Monmouth. ' He carried 
you in after our accident.' 

' Accident ! Why is he going to marry ?' 

The Marquess took a pinch of snufF. 

There was an awkward pause in the chamber. 

' I think now,' said Sidonia to the surgeon, ' that 
Lady Monmouth would take the draught.' 

She refused it. 

' Try you, Sidonia,' said the Marquess rather 
dryly. 

'You feel yourself again.?' said Sidonia, ad- 
vancing. 

' Would I did not ! ' said the Marchioness, with an 
air of stupor. * What has happened ? Why am I 
here ? Are you married ?^ 

* She wanders a little,' said Sidonia. 

The Marquess took another pinch of snuff. 
400 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

* I could have born even repulsion,' said Lady 
Monmouth in a voice of desolation, * but not for 
another ! ' 

' M. Villebecque,' said the Marquess. 

'My Lord?' 

Lord Monmouth looked at him with that irre- 
sistible scrutiny, which would daunt a galley slave ; 
and then after a short pause, said, * The carriage 
should have arrived by this time. Let us get home.' 

CHAPTER VI 

After the conversation at dinner which we have 
noticed, the restless and disquieted Coningsby 
wandered about Paris, vainly seeking in the distrac- 
tion of a great city some relief from the excitement 
of his mind. His first resolution was immediately 
to depart for England ; but when, on reflection, he 
was mindful that after all, the assertion which had so 
agitated him might really be without foundation, in 
spite of many circumstances that to his regardful 
fancy seemed to accredit it, his firm resolution began 
to waver. 

These were the first pangs of jealousy that Con- 
ingsby had ever experienced ; and they revealed to 
him the immensity of the stake which he was hazard- 
ing on a most uncertain die. 

The next morning he called in the Rue Rivoli and 
was informed that the family were not at home. He 
was returning under the arcades towards the Rue St. 
Florentin, when Sidonia passed him in an opposite 
direction on horseback and at a rapid rate. Conings- 
by, who was not observed by him, could not resist a 
strange temptation to watch for a moment his pro- 
gress. Coningsby saw him enter the Court of the 

2C 4^1 






CONINGSBY Book VI 

Hotel where the Wallinger family were staying. 
Would he come forth immediately? No. Con- 
insby stood still and pale. Minute followed minute. 
Coningsby flattered himself that Sidonia was only 
speaking to the porter. Then he would fain believe 
Sidonia was writing a note. Then crossing the 
street, he mounted by some steps the terrace of the 
Tuileries nearly opposite the Hotel of the Minister 
of Finance, and watched the house. A quarter of an 
hour elapsed, Sidonia did not come forth. They were 
at home to him ; only to him. Sick at heart, infin- 
itely wretched, scarcely able to guide his steps, dread- 
ing even to meet an acquaintance, and almost feeling 
that his tongue would refuse the oflfice of conversa- 
tion, he contrived to reach his grandfather's hotel, and 
was about to bury himself in his chamber, when on 
the staircase he met Flora. 

Coningsby had not seen her for the last fortnight. 
Seeing her now, his heart smote him for his neglect, 
excusable as it really was. Any one else at this time, 
he would have hurried by without recognition, but 
the gentle and sufl^ering Flora was too meek to be 
rudely treated by so kind a heart as Coningsby's. 

He looked at her ; she was pale and agitated. 
Her step trembled, while she still hastened on. 

' What is the matter.''' inquired Coningsby. 

' My Lord, — the Marchioness, — are in danger, 
thrown from their carriage.' Briefly she detailed to 
Coningsby all that had occurred ; that M. Villebecque 
had already repaired to them ; that she herself only 
this moment had learned the intelligence, that seepied 
to agitate her to the centre. Coningsby instantly 
turned with her ; but they had scarcely emerged from 
the court-yard when the carriage approached that 
brought Lord and Lady Monmouth home. They 

40? 



ri 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

followed it into the court. They were immediately 
at its door. 

' All is right, Harry,' said the Marquess, calm and 
grave. 

Coningsby pressed his grandfather's hand. Then 
he assisted Lucretia to alight. 

' I am quite well,' she said, ' now.' 
' But you must lean on me, dearest Lady Mon- 
mouth,' Coningsby said in a tone of great tenderness, 
as he felt Lucretia almost sinking from him. And he 
supported her into the hall of the hotel. 

Lord Monmouth had lingered behind. Flora 
crept up to him, and with unwonted boldness offered 
her arm to the Marquess. He looked at her with a 
glance of surprise, and then a softer expression, one 
indeed of an almost winning sweetness, which, though 
rare, was not a stranger to his countenance, melted 
his features, and taking the arm so humbly pre- 
sented, he said : 

' Ma Petite, you look more frightened than any of 
us. Poor child ! ' 

He had reached the top of the flight of steps ; he 
withdrew his arm from Flora, and thanked her with 
all his courtesy. 

I < You are not hurt then, sir.?' she ventured to ask 
\ with a look which expressed the infinite solicitude, 
' which her tongue did not venture to convey. 
I * By no means, my good little girl ;' and he ex- 
* tended his hand to her, which she reverently bent over 
and embraced. 

CHAPTER VII 

When Coningsby had returned to his grandfather's 
(hotel that morning, it was with a determination of 

403 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

leaving Paris the next day for England, but the acci- 
dent to Lady Monmouth, though, as it ultimately 
appeared, accompanied by no very serious conse- 
quences, quite dissipated this intention. It was 
impossible to quit them so crudely, at such a moment. 
So he remained another day, and that was the day 
preceding Sidonia's fete, which he particularly re- 
solved not to attend. He felt it quite impossible 
that he could again endure the sight of either Sidonia 
or Edith. He looked upon them as persons who had 
deeply injured him ; though they really were in- 
dividuals who had treated him with invariable kind- 
ness. But he felt their existence was a source of 
mortification and misery to him. With these feel- 
ings, sauntering away the last hours at Paris, dis- 
quieted, uneasy ; no present, no future ; no enjoy- 
ment, no hope; really, positively, undeniably, 
unhappy ; unhappy too for the first time in his life ; 
the first unhappiness — what a companion piece for the 
first love — Coningsby, of all places in the world, in 
the gardens of the Luxemburg, encountered Sir 
Joseph Wallinger and Edith. 

To avoid them was impossible ; they met face to 
face ; and Sir Joseph stopped, and immediately re- 
minded him that it was three days since they had seen 
him, as if to reproach him for so unprecedented a 
neglect. And it seemed that Edith, though she said 
not as much, felt the same. And Coningsby turned 
round and walked with them. He told them he was 
going to leave Paris on the morrow. 

' And miss Monsieur de Sidonia's fete, of which 
we have all talked so much!' said Edith with un- 
affected surprise, and an expression of disappointmcfif 
which she in vain attempted to conceal. 

' The fe^ival will be not less gay for my absence; 
404 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

said Coningsby with that plaintive moroseness not 
unusual to despairing lovers. 

' If we were all to argue from the same premises 
and act accordingly,' said Edith, ' the saloons would 
be empty. But if any person's absence would be 
remarked, I should really have thought it would be 
yours. I thought you were one of Monsieur de 
Sidonia's great friends ! ' 

' He has no friend,' said Coningsby. ' No wise 
man has. What are friends.^ Traitors.' 

Edith looked very much astonished. And then 
she said : 

* I am sure you have not quarrelled with Monsieur 
de Sidonia, for we have just parted with him.' 

* I have no doubt you have,' thought Coningsby. 

* And it is impossible to speak of another in higher 
terms than he spoke of you. Sir Joseph observed 
how unusual it was for Monsieur de Sidonia to ex- 
press himself so warmly.' 

' Sidonia is a great man, and carries every thing 
before him,' said Coningsby. ' I am nothing ; I 
cannot cope with him ; I retire from the field.' 

'What field .'^' inquired Sir Joseph, who did not 
clearly catch the drift of these observations. ' It 
i appears to me that a field for action is exactly what 
1 Sidonia wants. There is no vent for his abilities and 
intelligence. He wastes his energy in travelling 
, from capital to capital like a King's messenger. The 
;i morning after his fete he is going to Madrid.' 
j This brought some reference to their mutual mo ve- 
il ments. Edith spoke of her return to Lancashire, of 
'her hope that Mr. Coningsby would soon see Oswald ; 
but Mr. Coningsby informed her that though he was 
going to leave Paris, he had no intention of returning 
to England ; that he had not yet quite made up his 

405 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

mind whither he should go ; but thought that he 
should travel direct to St. Petersburg. He wished 
to travel overland to Astrachan. That was the place 
he was particularly anxious to visit. 

After this incomprehensible announcement, they 
walked on for some minutes in silence, broken only 
by occasional monosyllables with which Coningsby 
responded at hazard to the sound remarks of Sir 
Joseph. As they approached the Palace, a party of 
English who were visiting the Chamber of Peers, and 
who were acquainted with the companions of Con- 
ingsby, encountered them. Amid the mutual recogni- 
tions, Coningsby was about to take his leave some- 
what ceremoniously ; but Edith held forth her hand, ^ 
and said : m 

' Is this indeed farewell .'" 

His heart was agitated, his countenance changed; 
he retained her hand amid the chattering tourists, too 
full of their criticisms and their egotistical common 
places to notice what was passing. A sentimental 
ebuUition seemed to be on the point of taking place. 
Their eyes met. The look of Edith was mournful 
and inquiring. 

* We will say farewell at the ball,' said Coningsby, 
and she rewarded him with a radiant smile. 



CHAPTER VIII 

SiDONiA lived in the Faubourg St. Germain in a 
large hotel, that, in old days, had belonged to the 
Crillons ; but it had received at his hands such exten- 
sive alterations, that nothing of the original decora- 
tion, and little of its arrangement, remained. 

A flight of marble steps, ascending from a vast 
court, led into a hall of great dimensions, which was 

406 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

at the same time an orangery, and a gallery of sculp- 
ture. It was illumined by a distinct, yet soft and 
subdued, light, which harmonised with the beautiful 
repose of the surrounding forms, and with the exotic 
perfume that was wafted about. A gallery led from 
this hall to an inner hall of quite a different character ; 
fantastic, glittering, variegated ; full of strange 
shapes and dazzling objects. 

The roof was carved and gilt in that honeycomb 
style prevalent in the Saracenic buildings ; the walls 
were hung with leather stamped in rich and vivid 
patterns ; the floor was a flood of mosaic ; about 
were statues of negroes of human size with faces of 
wild expression, and holding in their outstretched 
hands silver torches that blazed with an almost pain- 
ful brilliancy. 

From this inner hall, a double staircase of white 
marble, led to the grand suite of apartments. 

These saloons, lofty, spacious, and numerous, had 
been decorated principally in encaustic by the most 
celebrated artists of Munich. The three principal 
rooms were only separated from each other by col- 
umns, covered with rich hangings, on this night 
drawn aside. The decoration of each chamber was 
appropriate to its purpose. On the walls of the ball- 
room, nymphs and heroes moved in measure in 
Sicilian landscapes, or on the azure shores of JEgtzn 
I waters. From the ceiling beautiful divinities threw 
garlands on the guests, who seemed surprised that 
, the roses, unwilling to quit Olympus, would not 
1 descend on earth. The general effect of this fair 
' chamber was heightened too by that regulation of 
the house which did not permit any benches in the 
ball-room. That dignified assemblage who are 
always found ranged in precise discipline against the 

407 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

wall, did not here mar the flowing grace of the fes- 
tivity. The chaperons had no cause to complain. 
A large saloon abounded in ottamans and easy chairs 
at their service, where their delicate charges might 
rest when weary, or find distraction when not en- 
gaged. 

All the world were at this fete of Sidonia. It 
exceeded in splendour and luxury every entertain- 
ment that had yet been given. The highest rank, 
even Princes of the blood, beauty, fashion, fame — all 
assembled in a magnificent and illuminated palace, 
resounding, with exquisite melody. 

Coningsby though somewhat depressed, was not 
insensible to the magic of the scene. Since the pas- 
sage in the gardens of the Luxembourg — that tone 
— that glance — he had certainly felt much relieved, 
happier. And yet if all were, with regard to Sidonia, 
as unfounded as he could possibly desire, where was 
he then? Had he forgotten his grandfather — that 
fell look, that voice of intense detestation.? What 
was Millbank to him.'^ Where, what was the m} 
tery, for of some he could not doubt. The Spanish 
parentage of Edith had only more perplexed Con- 
ingsby. It oft'ered no solution. There could be no 
connection between a Catalan family and his mother, 
the daughter of a clergyman in a midland county. 
That there was any relationship between the Mill- 
bank family and his mother was contradicted by the 
conviction in which he had been brought up that his 
mother had no relations ; that she returned to Eng- 
land utterly friendless ; without a relative, a connec- 
tion, an acquaintance to whom she could appeal. 
Her complete forlornness was stamped upon his 
brain. Tender as were his years, when he was separ- 
ated from her, he could yet recal the very phrases jtt 

408 



I 



i 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

which she deplored her isolation ; and there were 
numerous passages in her letters which alluded to it. 
Coningsby had taken occasion to sound the Wallin- 
gers on this subject ; but he felt assured from the 
manner in which his advances were met, that they 
knew nothing of his mother, and attributed the hos- 
tility of Mr. Millbank to his grandfather solely to 
political emulation and local rivalries. Still there 
was the portrait and the miniature. That was a 
fact ; a clue which ultimately, he was persuaded, 
must lead to some solution. 

Coningsby had met with great social success at 
Paris. He was at once a favourite. The Parisian 
dames decided in his favour. He was a specimen of 
the highest style of English beauty which is very 
popular in France. His air was acknowledged as 
distinguished. The men also liked him ; he had 
not quite arrived at that age, when you make enemies. 
The moment therefore that he found himself in the 
saloons of Sidonia, he was accosted by many whose 
notice was flattering ; but his eye wandered, while 
he tried to be courteous and attempted to be 
sprightly. Where was she ? He had nearly reached 
the ball-room when he met her. She was on the 
arm of Lord Beaumanoir, who had made her ac- 
quaintance at Rome, and originally claimed it as the 
member of a family who, as the reader may perhaps 
not forget, had experienced some kindnesses from 
the Millbanks. 

There were mutual and hearty recognitions be- 
tween the young men ; great explanations where 
they had been, what they were doing, where they 
were going. Lord Beaumanoir told Coningsby he 
had introduced steeple-chaces at Rome, and had 
parted with Sunbeam to the nephew of a Cardinal. 

409 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

Coningsby securing Edith's hand for the next dance, 
they all moved on together to her aunt. 

Lady Wallinger was indulging in some Roman 
reminiscences with the Marquess. 

' And you are not going to Astrachan to-morrow.'" 
said Edith. 

* Not to-morrow,' said Coningsby. 

' You know that you said once that life was too 
stirring in these days to permit travel to a man.-^' 

' I wish nothing was stirring', said Coningsby. 
' I wish nothing to change. All that I wish is, that 
this fete should never end.' 

' Is it possible, that you can be capricious ! You 
perplex me very much.' 

' Am I capricious, because I dislike change ?^ 

'But Astrachan.?' 

' It was the air of the Luxembourg that reminded 
me of the desart,' said Coningsby. 

Soon after this Coningsby led Edith to the dan 
It was at a ball that he had first met her at Paris, ai 
this led to other reminiscences ; all most interesti 
Coningsby was perfectly happy. All mysteries, 
difficulties, were driven from his recollection ; 
lived only in the exciting and enjoyable prese 
Twenty-one and in love! 

Some time after this, Coningsby who was inev; 
ably separated from Edith, met his host. 

' Where have you been, child,' said Sidonia, ' that 
I have not seen you for some days ? I am going to 
Madrid to-morrow.' 

' And I must think, I suppose, of Cambridge.' 

' Well, you have seen something ; you will find 
it more profitable when you have digested it ; and 
you will have opportunity. That's the true spring 
of wisdom : meditate over the past. Adventur.( 

410 



ntur^j 

M 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 



and Contemplation share our being like day and 
night.' 

The resolute departure for England on the mor- 
row, had already changed into a supposed necessity 
of thinking of returning to Cambridge. In fact, 
Coningsby felt that to quit Paris and Edith was an 
impossibility. He silenced the remonstrance of his 
conscience by the expedient of keeping a half-term ; 
and had no difficulty in persuading himself that a 
short delay in taking his degree could not really be 
of the slightest consequence. 

It was the hour of supper. The guests at a French 
ball are not seen to advantage at this period. The 
custom of separating the sexes for this refreshment, 
and arranging that the ladies should partake of it by 
themselves, though originally founded in a feeling 
of consideration and gallantry, and with the deter- 
mination to secure under all circumstances the con- 
venience and comfort of the fair sex, is really, in its 
appearance and its consequences, anything but Euro- 
pean and produces a scene which rather reminds one 
of the harem of a sultaun, than a hall of chivalry. 
To judge from the countenances of the favoured 
fair, they are not themselves particularly pleased ; 
and when their repast is over, they necessarily return 
to empty halls, and are deprived of the dance at the 
very moment when they may feel most inclined to 
participate in its graceful excitement. 

These somewhat ungracious circumstances how- 
ever were not attendant on the festival of this night. 
There was opened in the Hotel of Sidonia for the 
first time a banquetting room which could contain 
with convenience all the guests. It was a vast cham- 
ber of white m.arble, the golden panels of the walls 
containing festive sculptures by Schwanthaler, re- 

411 



CONINGSBY Book VI 

lieved by encaustic tinting. In its centre was a 
fountain, a group of Bacchantes encircling Dionysos ; 
and from this fountain, as from a star, diverged the 
various tables from which sprang orange trees in 
fruit and flower. 

The banquet had but one fault ; Coningsby was 
separated from Edith. The Duchess of Grand Cairo, 
the beautiful wife of the heir of one of the Imperial 
illustrations, had determined to appropriate Con- 
ingsby as her cavalier for the moment. Distracted, 
he made his escape ; but his wandering eye could not 
find the object of its search ; and he fell prisoner 
to the charming Princess De Petitpoix, a Carlist 
chieftain, whose witty words avenged the cause of 
fallen dynasties and a cashiered nobility. 

Behold a scene brilliant in fancy, magnificent "n 
splendour! All the circumstances of his life at this 
moment were such as acted forcibly on the imagina- 
tion of Coningsby. Separated from Edith, he had 
still the delight of seeing her, the paragon of that 
bright company, the consummate being whom he 
adored! And who had spoken to him in a voice 
sweeter than a seranade, and had bestowed on him a 
glance softer than moonlight. The lord of the palace, 
more distinguished even for his capacity than 
his boundless treasure, was his chosen friend ; 
gained under circumstances of romantic interest, 
when the reciprocal influence of their personal 
qualities was afl^ected by no accessory know- 
ledge of their worldly positions. He himself 
was in the very bloom of youth and health ; 
the child of a noble house, rich for his pre- 
sent wants, and with a future of considerable for- 
tunes. Entrancing love and dazzling friendship 
high ambition and the pride of knowledge, the co 

412 



1 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

sciousness of a great prosperity, the vague, daring 
energies of the high pulse of twenty-one, all com- 
bined to stimulate his sense of existence, which, as 
he looked around him at the beautiful objects and 
listened to the delicious sounds, seemed to him a 
dispensation of almost supernatural ecstacy. 

About an hour after this, the ball-room still full, 
but the other saloons gradually emptying, Coningsby 
entered a chamber which seemed deserted. Yet he 
heard sounds as it were of earnest conversation. It 
was a voice that invited his progress ; he advanced 
another step, then suddenly stopped. There were 
two individuals in the room, by whom he was un- 
noticed. They were Sidonia and Miss Millbank. 
They were sitting on a sofa, Sidonia holding her 
hand and endeavouring, as it seemed, to sooth her. 
Her tones were tremulous ; but the expression of 
her face was fond and confiding. It was all the work 
of a moment. Coningsby instantly withdrew, yet 
could not escape hearing an earnest request from 
Edith to her companion that he would write to her. 

In a few seconds Coningsby had quitted the hotel 
of Sidonia, and the next day found him on his road 
to England. 



413 



BOOK VII 



CHAPTER I 



It was one of those gorgeous and enduring sunsets 
that seem to linger as if they wished to celebrate the 
mid period of the year. Perhaps the beautiful hour 
of impending twilight never exercises a more effec- 
tive influence on the soul than when it descends on 
the aspect of some distant and splendid city. What 
a contrast between the serenity and repose of our 
own bosoms, and the fierce passions and destructive 
cares girt in the walls of that multitude, whose domes 
and towers rise in purple lustre against the resplen- 
dent horizon! 

And yet the disturbing emotions of existence and 
the bitter inheritance of humanity, should exercise 
but a modified sway and entail but a light burden, 
within the circle of the city in which the next scene 
of our history leads us. For it is the sacred city of 
Study, of Learning, and of Faith ; and the declining 
beam is resting on the dome of the Radclifl^e, linger- 
ing on the towers of Christchurch and Magdalen, 
sanctifying the spires and pinnacles of holy St. 
Mary's. 

A young Oxonian, who had been watching for 
some time the city in the sunset from a rising ground 
in its vicinity, lost, as it would seem, in meditation, 

.4H 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

suddenly rose and looking at his watch as if remind- 
ful of some engagement, hastened his return at a 
rapid pace. He reached the High Street, as the 
Blenheim light post coach dashed up to the Star 
Hotel, with that brilliant precision which even the 
New Generation can remember, and yet which already 
ranks among the traditions of English manners. A 
peculiar and most animating spectacle used to be the 
arrival of a first-rate light coach in a country town! 
The small machine crowded with so many passengers, 
the foaming and curvetting leaders, the wheelers 
more steady, and glossy as if they had not done their 
ten miles in the hour, the triumphant bugle of the 
guard, and the haughty routine with which the 
driver, as he reached his goal, threw his whip to the 
obedient ostlers in attendance ; and not least the star- 
ing crowd, a little awe-struck, and looking for the 
moment at the lowest official of the stable with con- 
siderable respect ; altogether made a picture which 
one recollects with cheerfulness, and misses now in 
many a dreary market town. 

Our Oxonian was a young man about the middle 
height, and naturally of a very thoughtful expres- 
sion and rather reserved mien. The general charac- 
ter of his countenance was indeed a little stern, but 
it broke into an almost bewitching smile, and a blush 
suffused his face, as he sprang forward and welcomed 
an individual about the same age, who had jumped 
off the Blenheim. 

'Well, Coningsby!' he exclaimed, extending both 
his hands. 

* By Jove, my dear Millbank, we have met at last,' 
said his friend. 

And here we must for a moment revert to what 
had occurred to Coningsby since he so suddenly 

4'5 



CONINGSBY Book VII i 

I 

quitted Paris at the beginning of the year. The 
wound he had received was deep to one unused to 
wounds. Yet after all, none had outraged his feel- 
ing, no one had betrayed his hopes. He had loved 
one who had loved another. Misery, but scarcely 
humiliation. And yet 'tis a bitter pang under any 
circumstances to find another preferred to yourself. 
It is about the same blow as one would probably feel 
if falling from a balloon. Your Icarian flight melts 
into a very grovelling existence, scarcely superior to 
that of a sponge or a coral, or redeemed only from 
utter insensibility by your very frank detestation of 
your rival. It is quite impossible to conceal that 
Coningsby had imbibed for Sidonia a certain degree 
of aversion, which in these days of exaggerated 
phrase might even be described as hatred. And 
Edith was so beautiful! And there had seemed 
between them a sympathy so native and spontaneous, 
creating at once the charm of intimacy without any 
of the disenchanting attributes, that are occasionally 
its consequence. He would recall the tones of her 
voice, the expression of her soft dark eye, the airy 
spirit and frank graciousness, sometimes even the 
flattering blush, with which she had ever welcomed 
one of whom she had heard so long and so kindly. 
It seemed, to use a sweet and homely phrase, that 
they were made for each other ; the circumstances of j 
their mutual destinies might have combined into one | 
enchanting fate. 

And yet had she accorded him that peerless boon, ^ 
her heart — with what aspect was he to communicate | 
this consummation of all his hopes to his grandfather, | 
ask Lord Monmouth for his blessing, and the graci- 
ous favour of an establishment for the daughter of 
his foe ; of a man whose name was never mentione4 

416 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

except to cloud his visage. Ah ! what was that mys- 
tery that connected the haughty house of Coningsby 
with the humble blood of the Lancashire manufac- 
turer? Why was the portrait of his mother beneath 
the roof 'of MiTIbank? Coningsby had delicately 
touched upon the subject both with Edith and the 
Wallingers, but the result of his inquiries only in- 
volved the question in deeper gloom. Edith had 
none but maternal relatives ; more than once she 
had mentioned this, and the Wallingers on other 
occasions had confirmed the remark. Coningsby had 
sometimes drawn the conversation to pictures, and 
he would remind her with playfulness of their first 
unconscious meeting in the gallery of the Rue Tron- 
chet ; then he remembered that Mr. Millbank was 
fond of pictures ; then he recollected some specimens 
of Mr. Millbank's collection, and after touching on 
several which could not excite suspicion, he came to 
' a portrait, a portrait of a lady ; was it a portrait, or 
an ideal countenance ?^ 

Edith thought she had heard it was a portrait, but 
she was by no means certain ; and most assuredly 
was quite unacquainted with the name of the original, 
if there were an original. 

Coningsby addressed himself to the point with 
Sir Joseph. He enquired of the uncle explicitly, 
whether he knew anything on the subject. Sir 
Joseph was of opinion that it was something that 
Millbank had somewhere 'picked up.' Millbank 
used often to ' pick up ' pictures. 

Disappointed in his love, Coningsby sought refuge 
in the excitement of study, and in the brooding ini- 
agination of an aspiring spirit. The softness of his 
heart seemed to have quitted him for ever. He re- 
curred to his habitual reveries of political greatness 
2D 417 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

and public distinction. And as it ever seemed to 
him, that no preparation could be complete for the 
career which he planned for himself, he devoted him- 
self with increased ardour to that digestion of know- 
ledge which converts it into wisdom. His life at 
Cambridge w^as now a life of seclusion. With the 
exception of a very few Eton friends he avoided all 
society. And indeed his acquisitions during this 
term were such as few have equalled, and could only 
have been mastered by a mental discipline of a severe 
and exalted character. At the end of the term Con- 
ingsby took his degree, and in a few days was about 
to quit that University where on the whole he had 
passed three serene and happy years, in the society of 
fond and faithful friends, and in ennobling pursuits. 
He had many plans for his impending movements, 
yet none of them very mature ones. Lord Vere 
wished Coningsby to visit his family in the north, 
and afterwards to go to Scotland together ; Con- 
ingsby was more inclined to travel for a year. Amid 
this hesitation, a circumstance occurred which deci( 
him to adopt neither of these courses. 

It was Commencement, and coming out of 
quadrangle of St. John's, Coningsby came suddei 
upon Sir Joseph and Lady Wallinger, who were visH 
ing the marvels and rarities of the University. The 
were alone. Coningsby was a little embarrassed, foF 
he could not forget the abrupt manner in which he 
had parted from them ; but they greeted him with 
so much cordiality that he instantly recovered him- 
self, and turning became their companion. He 
hardly ventured to ask after Edith; at length in 
depressed tone and a hesitating manner he inquired 
whether they had lately seen Miss Millbank. He 
was himself surprised at the extreme light-hearted- 

4t8 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

ness which came over him the moment he heard she 
was in England, at Millbank, with her family. He 
always very much liked Lady Wallinger ; but this 
morning he hung over her like a lover, lavished on 
her unceasing and the most delicate attentions, 
seemed to exist only in the idea of making the Wal- 
lingers enjoy and understand Cambridge ; no one 
else was to be their guide at any place, or under any 
circumstances. He told them exactly what they 
were to see ; how they were to see it ; when they 
were to see it. He told them of things which no- 
body did see ; but which they should. He insisted 
that Sir Joseph should dine with him in Hall ; Sir 
Joseph could not think of leaving Lady Wallinger ; 
Lady Wallinger could not think of Sir Joseph miss- 
ing an opportunity that might never offer again. 
Besides they might both join her after dinner. Ex- 
cept to give her husband a dinner, Coningsby evid- 
ently intended never to leave her side. 

And the next morning, the occasion favourable, 
being alone with the lady. Sir Joseph bustling about 
a carriage, Coningsby said suddenly with a counten- 
ance a little disturbed, and in a low voice, ' I was 
pleased, I mean surprised to hear that there was still 
a Miss Millbank ; I thought by this time she might 
have borne another name.^^' 

Lady Wallinger looked at him with an expression 
I of some perplexity, and then said, ' Yes, Edith was 
' very much admired ; but she need not be precipitate 
! in marrying. Marriage is for a woman the event. 
■ Edith is too precious to be carelessly bestowed.' 

' But I understood,' said Coningsby, ' when I left 
Paris,' and here he became very confused, ' that Miss 
Millbank was engaged, on the point of marriage.' 
' With whom ?' 

419 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

■ ' Our friend, Sidonia.' 

^ I am sure that Edith would never marry Mon- 
sieur de Sidonia, nor Monsieur de Sidonia, Edith. 
'Tis a preposterous idea,' said Lady Wallinger. 

' But he very much admired her?' said Coningsby 
with a searching eye. 

' Possibly,' said Lady Wallinger, ' but he never 
even intimated his admiration.' jflj 

* But he was very attentive to Miss Millbank ?' 

' Not m.ore than our intimate friendship autho- 
rised, and might expect.' 

* You have known Sidonia a long time.'^' 

' It was Monsieur de Sidonia's father who intro- 
duced us to the care of Mr. Wallinger,' said Lady 
Wallinger, ' and therefore I have ever entertained 
for his son a most sincere regard. Besides I look 
upon him as a compatriot. Recently he has been 
even more than usually kind to us, — especially to 
Edith. While we were at Paris he recovered for 
a great number of jewels which had been left to 
by her uncle in Spain, and, what she prized infinit< 
more, the whole of her mother's correspondei 
which she maintained with this relative since 
marriage. Nothing but the influence of Sidonli 
could have effected this. Therefore of course Edith 
is attached to him, almost as much as I am. In shor; 
he is our dearest friend ; our counsellor in all our 
cares. But as for marrying him, the idea is ridicu- 
lous to those who know Monsieur Sidonia. No 
/ earthly consideration would ever induce him to im- 
[ pair that purity of race on which he prides himself. 
Besides there are other obvious objections, which 
would render an alliance between him and my niece 
utterly impossible ; Edith is quite as devoted to her 
religion as Monsieur Sidonia can be to his race.' 

420 



I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

A ray of light flashed on the brain of Coningsby, 
as Lady Wallinger said these words. The agitated 
interview, which never could be explained away, 
already appeared in quite a different point of view. 
He became pensive, remained silent, was relieved 
when Sir Joseph, whose return he had hitherto depre- 
cated, re-appeared. Coningsby learnt in the course 
of the day, that the Wallingers were about to make, 
and immediately, a visit to Hellingsley ; their first 
visit ; indeed this was the first year that Mr. Mill- 
bank had taken up his abode there. He did not 
much like the change of life Sir Joseph told Con- 
ingsby, but Edith was delighted with Hellingsley, 
which Sir Joseph understood was a very distinguished 
place, with very fine gardens of which his niece was 
particularly fond. 

When Coningsby returned to his rooms, those 
rooms which he was soon about to quit for ever, in 
arranging some papers preparatory to his removal, 
his eye lighted on a too long unanswered letter of 
Oswald Millbank. Coningsby had often projected a 
visit to Oxford, which he much desired to make, but 
hitherto it had been impossible for him to effect it 
except in the absence of Millbank ; and he had fre- 
quently postponed it, that he might combine his first 
visit to that famous seat of learning with one to his 
old schoolfellow and friend. Now that was practical. 
And immediately Coningsby wrote to apprize Mill- 
bank that he had taken his degree, was free, and pre- 
pared to pay to him immediately the long projected 
visit. Three years and more had elapsed since they 
had quitted Eton. How much had happened in the 
interval! What new ideas, new feelings, vast and 
novel knowledge ! Though they had not met, they 
were nevertheless familiar with the progress and 

421 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

movement of each other's minds. Their suggestive 
correspondence was too valuable to both of them to 
have been otherwise than cherished. And now they 
were to meet, on the eve of entering that world for 
which they had made so sedulous a preparation. 

CHAPTER II ^ 

There are few things in life more interesting than an 
unrestrained interchange of ideas with a congenial 
spirit ; and there are few things more rare. How 
very seldom do you encounter in the world a man of 
great abilities, acquirements, experience, who will un- 
mask his mind ; unbutton his brains ; and pour forth 
in careless and picturesque phrase, all the results of 
his studies and observation ; his knowledge of men, 
books and nature. On the contrary, if a man has by 
any chance what he conceives an original idea, he 
hoards it as if it were old gold ; and rather avoids th( 
subject with which he is most conversant, from 
that you may appropriate his best thoughts. Onej 
the principal causes of our renowned dullness in c( 
versation is our extreme intellectual jealousy, 
must be admitted that in this respect authors, 
especially poets, bear the palm. They never think 
they are sufficiently appreciated, and live in tremour 
lest a brother should distinguish himself. Artists 
have the repute of being nearly as bad. And as for a 
small rising politician, a clever speech by a supposed 
rival or suspected candidate for office, destroys his 
appetite and disturbs his slumbers. 

One of the chief delights and benefits of travel is 
that one is perpetually meeting men of great abihties, 
of original mind, and rare acquirements, who will 
converse without reserve. In these discourses, 



422 



I 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

intellect makes daring leaps and marvellous advances. 
The tone that colours our after life is often caught in 
these chance colloquies, and the bent given that 
shapes a career. 

And yet perhaps there is no occasion when the 
heart is more open, the brain more quick, the memory 
more rich and happy, or the tongue more prompt and 
eloquent, than when two school-day friends, knit by 
every sympathy of intelHgence and affection, meet at 
the close of their college careers, after a long separa- 
tion, hesitating as it were on the verge of active life, 
and compare together their conclusions of the in- 
terval ; impart to each other all their thoughts and 
secret plans and projects ; high fancies and noble 
aspirations ; glorious visions of personal fame and 
national regeneration. 

Ah ! why should such enthusiasm ever die ! Life 
is too short to be little. Man is never so manly as 
when he feels deeply, acts boldly, and expresses him- 
self with frankness and with fervour. 

Most assuredly there never was a Congress of 
Friendship wherein more was said and felt than in this 
meeting so long projected, and yet perhaps on the 
whole so happily procrastinated between Coningsby 
and Millbank. In a moment, they seemed as if they 
had never parted. Their faithful correspondence in- 
deed had maintained the chain of sentiment un- 
broken. But details are only for conversation. Each 
poured forth his mind without stint. Not an author 
that had influenced their taste or judgment, but was 
canvassed and criticised ; not a theory they had framed 
or a principle they had adopted that was not con- 
fessed. Often with boyish glee still lingering with 
their earnest purpose, they shouted as they discovered 
that they had formed the same opinion or adopted the 

423 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

same conclusion. They talked all day and late into 
the night. They condensed into a week the poignant 
conclusions of three years of almost unbroken study. 
And one night as they sat together in Millbank's 
rooms at Oriel, their conversation having for some 
time taken a political colour, Millbank said : 

* Now tell me, Coningsby, exactly what you con- 
ceive to be the state of parties in this country ; for it 
seems to me that if we penetrate the surface, the 
classification must be more simple than their many 
names would intimate.' 

' The principle of the Exclusive Constitution of 
England having been conceded by the acts of 
1827-8-32,' said Coningsby, ' a party has arisen in the 
State, who demand that the principle of political 
liberalism shall consequently be carried to its extent ; 
which it appears to them is impossible without getting 
rid of the fragments of the old Constitution that 
remain. This is the Destructive party ; a party with 
distinct and intelligible principles. They seek a 
specific for the evils of our social system in the genei 
suffrage of the population. 

' They are resisted by another party, who havij 
given up Exclusion, would only embrace as mi 
Liberalism as is necessary for the moment ; who with- 
out any embarrassing promulgation of principles wish 
tg.keep things as they find them as long as they canv^, 
and then will manage them as they find them as well 
as they can ;* but as a party must have the semblance 
of principles, they take the names of the things that 
they have destroyed. Thus they are devoted to the 
prerogatives of the Crown, although in truth the 
Crown has been stripped of every one of its preroga- 
tives ; they affect a great veneration for the Constitu- 
tion in Church and State, though every one ki 

424 



k a 

lemjli 



:no^H| 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

that the Constitution in Church and State no longer 
exists ; they are ready to stand or fall with the " inde- 
pendence of the Upper House of Parliament," 
though, in practice, they are perfectly aware, that, 
with their sanction, the " Upper House " has abdi- 
cated its initiatory functions, and now serves only as a 
Court of Review of the legislation of the House of 
Commons. Whenever public opinion which this 
party never attempts to form, to educate, or to lead, 
falls into some violent perplexity, passion, or caprice, 
this party yields without a struggle to the impulse, 
and when the storm has past, attempts to obstruct and 
obviate the logical, and ultimately the inevitable, 
results of the very measures they have themselves 
originated, or to which they have consented. This 
is the Conservative party. ~- I 

"""•^ r care not whether men are called Whigs or ■, 
Tories, Radicals or Chartists, or by what nickname 
a bustling and thoughtless race may designate them- j 
selves ; but these two divisions comprehend at pre- I i^ . 
sent the English nation. U-'^^^. U/^/J^*.— ^>' <^-v^iAM/H^<^ 

' With regard to the first school, I for one have no 
faith in the remedial qualities of a government carried 
on by a neglected democracy, who, for three centuries, g^^; 
have received no education. What prospect does it ] ' 

offer us of those high principles of conduct with 
which we have fed our imaginations and strengthened 
our will ? I perceive none of the elements of govern- 
ment that should secure the happiness of a people and 

I the greatness of a realm. 

' * But in my opinion if Democracy be combated only 

; by Conservativism, Democracy must triumph, and at 
no distant date. This then is our position. The 
man who enters public life at this epoch has to choose 

: between Political Infidelity and a Destructive Creed.' 



~3 f 5 i( 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

* This then,' said Millbank, ' is the dilemma to 
which we are brought by nearly two centuries of Par- 
liamentary Monarchy and Parliamentary Church?' 

' 'Tis true,' said Coningsby. ' We cannot conceal 
it from ourselves, that the first has made Government 
detested, and the second. Religion disbelieved.' 

' Many men in this country,' said Millbank, ' and 
especially in the class to which I belong, are recon- 
ciled to the contemplation of democracy, because they 
have accustomed themselves to believe that it is the 
only power by which we can sweep away those sec- 
tional privileges and interests that impede the intel- 
ligence and industry of the community.' 

' And yet,' said Coningsby, ' the only way to ter- 
minate what in the language of the present day is 
called Class Legislation is not to intrust power to 
classes. You would find a locofoco majority as much 
addicted to Class Legislation as a factitious aristocracy. 
The only power, that has no class sympathy is th( 
Sovereign.' 

' But suppose the case of an arbitrary Sovereij 
what would be your check against him ?^ 

' The same as against an arbitrary Parliament.' 

' But a Parliament is responsible.' 

' To whom.'^' 

^ To their constituent body.' 

' Suppose it was to vote itself perpetual ?^ 

' But public opinion would prevent that.' 

' And is public opinion of less influence on an 
dividual than on a body.'" 

' But public opinion may be indifferent : a nation 
may be misled, may be corrupt.' 

^ If the nation that elects the Parliament be cor- 
rupt, the elected body will resemble it. The nation 
that is corrupt, deserves to fall. But this only shows 

426 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

that there is something to be considered beyond forms 
of government — national character. And herein 
mainly should we repose our hopes. If a nation be 
led to aim at the good and the great, depend upon it, 
whatever be its form, the government will respond to 
its convictions and its sentiments.' 

' Do you then declare against Parliamentary gov- 
ernment ?' 

' Far from it : I look upon political change as the 
greatest of evils, for it comprehends all. But if we 
have no faith in the permanence of the existing 
settlement, if the very individuals who established 
it year after year are proposing their modifications or 
their reconstructions, so also, while we uphold what 
exists, ought we to prepare ourselves for the change 
we deem impending.'' 

' Now I would not that either ourselves, or our 
fellow citizens, should be taken unawares as in 1832, 
when the very men who opposed the Reform Bill 
offered contrary objections to it which destroyed each 
other, so ignorant were they of its real character, its 
historical causes, its political consequences. We 
should now so act, that when the occasion arrives, we 
should clearly comprehend what we want, and have 
formed an opinion as to the best means by which that 
want can be supplied. 

' For this purpose, I would accustom the public 
mind to the contemplation of an existing though 
torpid power in the constitution ; capable of remov- 
ing our social grievances were we to transfer to it those 
prerogatives which the Parliament has gradually 
usurped, and used in a manner which has produced 
the present material and moral disorganisation. The 
House of Commons is the house of a few ; the Sove- 
reign is the Sovereign of all. The proper leader of 

427 ^ 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

the_p_epple is the individual who sits upon the throne.' 
' Then you abjure the Representative principle .^ 
' Why so ? R epresentation is not necessary, or 
even in a principal sense. Parliamentary. Parliament 
is not sitting at this moment, and yet the nation is 
represented in its highest as well as in its most minute 
interests. Not a grievance escapes notice and re- 
dress. I see in the newspaper this morning that a 
pedagogue has brutally chastised his pupil. It is a 
fact known over all England. We must not forget 
that a principle of government is reserved for our 
days, that we shall not find in our Aristotle's, or even 
in the forests of Tacitus, nor in our Saxon Wittenage- 
motes, nor in our Plantagenet Parliaments. Opinion 
now is supreme, and opinion speaks in print. The 
representation of the Press is far more complete than 
the representation of Parliament. Parliamentary re- 
presentation was the happy device of a ruder age, to 
which it was admirably adapted ; an age of semi- 
civilisation, when there was a leading class in the 
community ; but it exhibits many symptoms of 
desuetude. It is controlled by a system of repre^ 
sentation more vigorous and comprehensive ; whi^f 
absorbs its duties and fulfils them more efficientl^P 
and in which discussion is pursued on fairer terms, 
and often with more depth and information.' 

* And to what power would you intrust the function 
of Taxation.'^' 

* To some power that would employ it more dis- 
creetly than in creating our present amount of debt, 
and in establishing our present system of imposts. 

' In a word, true wisdom lies in the policy that 
would effect its ends by the influence of opinion, and 
yet by the means of existing forms. Nevertheless if 
we are forced to revolutions, let us propose to our 

428 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

consideration the idea of a free monarchy, established 
on fundamental laws, itself the apex of a vast pile of 
municipal and local government, ruling an educated 
people, represented by a free and intellectual press. 
Before such a royal authority, supported by such a 
national opinion, the sectional anomalies of our coun- 
try would disappear. Under such a system, where 
qualification would not be parliamentary, but per- 
sonal, even statesmen would be educated ; we should 
have no more diplomatists who could not speak 
French ; no more bishops ignorant of theology ; no 
more generals-in-chief who never saw a field. 

' Now there is a polity adapted to our laws, our 
institutions, our feelings, our manners, our traditions ; 
a polity capable of great ends, and appealing to high 
sentiments ; a polity which in my opinion would 
render government an object of national affection ; 
which would terminate sectional anomalies, assuage 
religious heats, and extinguish Chartism.' 

' You said to me yesterday,' said Millbank, after a 
pause, ' quoting the words of another which you 
adopted, that Man was made to adore and to obey. 
Now you have shown to me the means by which you 
i deem it possible that government might become no 
i longer odious to the subject ; you have shown how 
I man may be induced to obey. But there are duties 
and interests for man beyond political obedience, and 
social comfort, and national greatness ; higher inter- 
ests and greater duties. How would you deal with 
their spiritual necessities ? You think you can com- 
■ bat political infidelity in a nation by the principle of 
' enlightened loyalty, how would you encounter religi- 
' ous infidelity in a state ? By what means is the prin- 
ciple of profound reverence to be revived ? How, in 
' short, is man to be led to adore?' 

429 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

' Ah ! that is a subject which I have not forgotten,' 
replied Coningsby. ' I know from your letters, how 
deeply it has engaged your thoughts. I confess to 
you that it has often filled mine with perplexity and 
depression. When we were at Eton, and both of us 
impregnated with the contrary prejudices in which we 
had been brought up, there was still between us one 
common ground of sympathy and trust ; we reposed 
with confidence and affection in the bosom of our 
Church. Time and Thought, with both of us, have 
only matured the spontanteous veneration of our boy- 
hood. But Time and Thought have also shown me, 
that the Church of our heart is not in a position, as 
regards the community, consonant with its original 
and essential character, or with the welfare of the 
nation.' 

' T he char acter of a Church is universality,' replied 
MilTBank. 'Once tlieTXliurcFTn' this country was 
universal, in principle and practice ; when wedded, 
the State, it continued at least universal in princi] 
if not in practice. What is it now.*^ All ties 
tween the State and the Church are abolished exc( 
those, which tend to its danger and degradation.' 

' What can be more anomalous than the presei 
connection between State and Church ? Every con- 
dition on which it was originally consented to has been 
cancelled. That original alliance was in my view an 
equal calamity for the Nation and the Church ; but 
at least it was an intelligible compact. Parliament, 
then consisting only of members of the established 
Church was on ecclesiastical matters, a lay synod, and 
might in some points of view be esteemed a necessary 
portion of Church government. But you have 
effaced this exclusive character of parliament ; you 
have determined that a communion with the estab- 

430 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

lished Church shall no longer be part of the qualifica- 
tion for sitting in the House of Commons. There is 
no reason, as far as the constitution avails, why every 
member of the House of Commons should not be a 
dissenter. But the whole power of the country is 
concentred in the House of Commons. The House 
of Lords, even the Monarch himself, has openly an- 
nounced and confessed, within these ten years that the 
will of the House of Commons is supreme. A single 
vote of the House of Commons in 1832 made the 
Duke of Wellington declare in the House of Lords 
that he was obliged to abandon his sovereign in " the 
most difficult and distressing circumstances." The 
House of Commons is absolute. It is the state. 
" L'Etat, c'est moi." The House of Commons vir- 
tually appoints the bishops. A sectarian assembly 
appoints the bishops of the established Church. 
They may appoint twenty Hoadleys. James II, was 
expelled the throne because he appointed a Roman 
Catholic to an Anglican see. A parliament might do 
this to-morrow with impunity. And this is the Con- 
stitution in Church and State which Conservative 
dinners toast ! The only consequences of the present 
union of Church and State are, that, on the side of 
the State there is perpetual interference in ecclesiasti- 
cal government, and on the side of the Church a 
sedulous avoidance of all those principles on which 
alone Church government can be established, and by 
the influence of which alone can the Church of Eng- 
land again become universal.' 

' But it is urged that the State protects its 
revenues .f*' 

* No ecclesiastical revenues should be safe, that re- 
quire protection. Modern history is a history, of 
Church spoliation. "~~Ai=id- by wKoni? Not by the 
--— _ _—,-— ^^j 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

people; not by the democracy. No, it is the Em- 
peror, the King, the feudal Baron, the Court Minion. 
The estate of the Church is the estate of the People, 
as long as the Church is governed on its real prin- 
ciples. The Church is the medium by which the 
despised and degraded classes assert the native equal- 
ity of man, and vindicate the rights and power of In- 
tellect. It made in the darkest hour of Norman rule, 
the son of a Saxon pedlar Primate of England ; and 
placed Nicholas Breakspear, a Hertfordshire peasant, 
on the throne of the Caesars. It would do as 
great things now, if it were divorced from the degrad- 
ing and tyrannical connection that enchains it. You 
would have other sons of peasants Bishops of Eng- 
land instead of men appointed to that sacred office 
solely because they were the needy scions of a factiti- 
ous aristocracy ; men of gross ignorance, profligate 
habits, and grinding extortion ; who have disgraced 
the episcopal throne, and profaned the altar.' 

' But surely you cannot justly extend such a de- 
scription to the present bench.' 

' Surely not : I speak of the past ; of the past that 
has produced so much present evil. We live in 
decent times ; frigid, latitudinarian, alarmed, decor^ 
ous. A priest is scarcely deemed in our days a^lr 
^uccessor of the authors of the gospels, if he be not 
the editor of a Greek play ; and he who follows St. 
Paul must now at least have been private tutor of 
some young nobleman, who has taken a good degree ! 
And then you are all astonished that the Church is not 
universal! Why! nothing but the indestructible- 
ness of its principles, however feebly pursued, could 
have maintained even the disorganised body that still 
survives. 

* And yet, my dear Coningsby, with all its past 
432 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

errors and all its present deficiencies, it is by the 
Church, I would have said until I listened to you 
to-night, by the Church alone, that I see any chance 
of regenerating the national character. The parochial 
system, though shaken by the fatal Poor Law, is still 
the most ancient, the most comprehensive, and the 
most popular institution of the country ; the younger 
priests are, in general, men whose souls are awake to 
the high mission which they have to fulfil, and which 
their predecessors so neglected ; there is I think a 
rising feeling in the community, that parliamentary 
interference in matters ecclesiastical has not tended 
either to the spiritual or the material elevation of the 
humbler orders. Divorce the Church from the State, 
and the spiritual power that struggled against the 
brute force of the dark ages, against tyrannical mon- 
archs and barbarous barons, will struggle again in 
opposition to influences of a difl^erent form, but of a 
similar tendency ; equally selfish, equally insensible, 
equally barbarising. The priests of God are the 
tribunes of the people. Oh! ignorant! that with 
such a mission, they should ever have cringed in the 
anti-chambers of ministers, or bowed before parlia- 
mentary committees ! ' 

' The Utilitarian system is dead,' said Coningsby. 
' It has past through the heaven of philosophy like a 
hail storm ; cold, noisy, sharp and peppering ; and it 
has melted away. And yet can we wonder that it 
found some success, when we consider the political 
ignorance and social torpor which it assailed^ 
Anointed Kings turned into chief magistrates, and 
; therefore much overpaid; Estates of the Realm 
changed into parliaments of virtual representation, 
and therefore requiring real reform; Holy Church 
transformed into national establishment, and 
?E 433 






CONINGSBY Book VII 

therefore grumbled at by all the nation for whom 
it was not supported. What an inevitable harvest of 
Sedition, Radicalism, Infidelity ! I really think there 
is no society, however great its resources, that could 
long resist the united influences of Chief Magistrate, 
Virtual Representation, and Church Establishment!' 

' I have immense faith in the New Generation,' 
said Millbank eagerly. 

* It is a holy thing to see a State saved by its 
youth,' said Coningsby, and then he added in a tone 
of humility, if not of depression : ' But what a task ! 
What a variety of qualities, what a combination of 
circumstances are requisite! What bright abilities 
and what noble patience ! What confidence from the 
people, what favour from the Most High!' 

' But he will favour us,' said Millbank. ' And I 
say to you as Nathan said unto David, " Thou art the 
man!" Yi>u w€Be-our-leader-at-Eton~; the friends of 
your heart and boyhood still cling and cluster around 
you, they are all men whose position forces them into 
public life. It is a nucleus of honour, faith and 
power. You have only to dare. And will you not 
dare ? It is our privilege to live in an age when the 

[career of the highest ambition is identified with the 
performance of the greatest good. Of the present 
epoch it may be truly said, " Who dares to be good, 
dares to be great." ' 

' Heaven is above all,' said Coningsby. ' The 
curtain of our fate is still undrawn. We are happy 
in our friends, dear Millbank, and whatever lights, we 
will stand together. For myself, I prefer fame to 
life ; and yet, the consciousness of heroic deeds to the 
most widespread celebrity.' 



434 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 



CHAPTER III 

The beautiful light of summer had never shone on a 
scene and surrounding landscape which recalled hap- 
pier images of English nature, and sweeter recollec- 
tions of English manners, than that to which the 
would now introduce our readers. One of those true 
old English Halls now unhappily so rare, built in the 
time of the Tudors, and in its elaborate timber fram- 
ing and decorative woodwork, indicating perhaps the 
scarcity of brick and stone at the period of its struc- 
ture as much as the grotesque genius of its fabricator, 
rose on a terrace surrounded by ancient and very 
formal gardens. The hall itself during many genera- 
tions had been vigilantly and tastefully preserved by 
its proprietors. There was not a point which was not 
as fresh as if it had been renovated but yesterday. It 
stood a huge and strange blending of Grecian, Gothic, 
and Italian architecture, with a wild dash of the 
Fantastic in addition. The lantern watch-towers of 
a baronial castle were placed in juxta position with 
Doric columns employed for chimneys, while under 
oriel windows might be observed Italian doorways 
iwith Grecian pediments. Beyond the extensive 
gardens, an avenue of Spanish chestnuts at each point 
of the compass approached the mansion, or led into a 
small park which was table land, its limits opening on 
all sides to beautiful and extensive valleys, sparkling 
with cultivation, except at one point, where the river 
Darl formed the boundary of the domain, and then 
spread in many a winding through the rich country 
beyond. 

Such was Hellingsley, the new home that Oswald 
Millbank was about to visit for the first time. 

■^-35 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

Coningsby and himself had travelled together as far 
as Darlford, where their roads diverged, and they had 
separated with an engagement on the part of Con- 
ingsby to visit Hellingsley on the morrow. As they 
had travelled along, Coningsby had frequently led the 
conversation to domestic topics : gradually he had 
talked, and talked much, of Edith. Without an 
obtrusive curiosity, he extracted unconsciously to his 
companion traits of her character and early days, 
which filled him with a wild and secret interest. The 
thought that in a few hours, he was to meet her again, 
infused into his being a degree of transport, which the 
very necessity of repressing before his companion, 
rendered more magical and thrilling. How often it 
happens in life, that we have with a grave face to 
discourse of the most ordinary topics, while, all the 
time our heart and memory are engrossed with some 
enchanting secret! 

The Castle of his grandfather presented a far dif- 
ferent scene on the arrival of Coningsby to that which 
it had offered on his first visit. The Marquess had 
given him a formal permission to repair to it at his 
pleasure, and had instructed the steward accordingly. 
But he came without notice, at a season of the year 
when the absence of all sports made his arrival unex- 
pected. The scattered and sauntering household 
roused themselves into action, and contemplated the 
conviction that it might be necessary to do some 
service for their wages. There was a stir in that vast, 
sleepy castle. At last the steward was found, and 
came forward to welcome their young master, whose 
simple wants were limited to the rooms he had 
formerly occupied. 

Coningsby reached the castle a little before sunset, 
almost the same hour that he had arrived there more 

436 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 



than three years ago. How much had happened in 
the interval! Coningsby had already lived long 
enough to find interest in pondering over the past. 
That past too must inevitably exercise a great in- 
fluence over his present. He recalled his morning 
drive with his grandfather to the brink of that river, 
which was the boundary between his own domain 
and Hellingsley. Who dwelt at Hellingsley 



now ? 



Restless, excited, not insensible to the difficulties, 
perhaps the dangers, of his position, yet full of an 
entrancing emotion in which all thoughts and feelings 
seemed to merge, Coningsby went forth into the fair 
gardens to muse over his love amid objects as beauti- 
ful. A rosy light hung over the rare shrubs and tall 
fantastic trees ; while a rich yet darker tint suffused 
the distant woods. This euthanasia of the day exer- 
cises a strange influence on the hearts of those who 
love. Who has not felt it.^* Magical emotions that 
touch the immortal part! 

But as for Coningsby, the mitigating hour that 
softens the heart made his spirit brave. Amid the 
ennobling sympathies of nature, the pursuits and pur- 
poses of worldly prudence and conventional advan- 
tage subsided into their essential nothingness. He 
willed to blend his life and fate with a being beautiful 
as that nature that subdued him, and he felt in his 
own breast the intrinsic energies that in spite of all 
obstacles should mould such an imagination into 
reality. 

He descended the slopes, now growing dimmer in 
the fleeting light, into the park. The stillness was 
almost supernatural ; the jocund sounds of day had 
died, and the voices of the night had not commenced. 
His heart too was still. A sacred calm had succeeded 

437 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

to that distraction of emotion which had agitated him 
the whole day, while he had mused over his love and 
the infinite and insurmountable barriers that seemed 
to oppose his will. Now he felt one of those strong 
groundless convictions that are the inspiration of pas- 
sion, that all would yield to him as to one holding an 
enchanted wand. 

Onward he strolled ; it seemed without purpose, 
yet always proceeding. A pale and then gleaming 
tint stole over the masses of mighty timber ; and soon 
a glittering light flooded the lawns and glades. The 
moon was high in her summer heaven, and still 
Coningsby strolled on. He crossed the broad lawns, 
he traversed the bright glades : amid the gleaming 
and shadowy woods, he traced his prescient way. 

He came to the bank of a rushing river, foaming 
in the moonlight, and wafting on its blue breast the 
shadow of a thousand stars. 

' O ! River ! ' he said, * that rollest to my mistress, 
bear her, bear her, my heart!' 

CHAPTER IV 

Lady Wallinghr and Edith were together in the 
morning room of Hellingsley, the morrow after the 
arrival of Oswald. Edith was arranging flowers in 
a vase, while her aunt was embroidering a Spanish 
peasant in correct costume. The daughter of Mill- 
bank looked as bright and fragrant as the fair crea- 
tions that surrounded her. Beautiful to watch her as 
she arranged their forms and composed their groups ; 
to mark her eye glance with gratification at some 
happy combination of colour, or to listen to her de- 
light as they wafted to her in gratitude their perfume. 
Oswald and Sir Joseph were surveying the stables; 

438 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

Mr. Millbank, who had been daily expected 
for the last week from the factories, had not yet 
arrived. 

' I must say he gained my heart from the first,' 
said Lady Wallinger. 

' I wish the gardener would send us more roses,' 
said Edith. 

* He is so very superior to any young man I ever 
met,' continued Lady Wallinger. 

' I think we must have this vase entirely of roses ; 
don't you think so, aunt .^' inquired her niece. 

' I am very fond of roses,' said Lady Wallinger. 
* What beautiful bouquets Mr. Coningsby gave us 
at Paris, Edith!' 

'Beautiful!' 

' I must say, I was very happy when I met Mr. 
Coningsby again at Cambridge,' said Lady Wal- 
linger. ' It gave me much greater pleasure than 
seeing any of the colleges.' 

' How delighted Oswald seems at having Mr. Con- 
ingsby for a companion again,' said Edith. 

' And very naturally,' said Lady Wallinger. ' Os- 
wald ought to deem himself very fortunate in having 
such a friend. I am sure the kindness of Mr. Con- 
ingsby when we met him at Cambridge is what I 
never shall forget. But he always was my favourite 
from the first I saw him at Paris. Do you know, 
Edith, I liked him the best of all your admirers .?' 

* Oh ! no, aunt,' said Edith, smiling, ' not more 
than Lord Beaumanoir ; you forget your great 
favourite Lord Beaumanoir.' 

* But I did not know Mr. Coningsby at Rome,' 
said Lady Wallinger, ' I cannot agree that any body 
is equal to Mr. Coningsby. I cannot tell you how 
pleased I am that he is our neighbour ! ' 

439 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

As Lady Wallinger gave a finishing stroke to the 
jacket of her Andalusian, Edith vividly blushing, 
yet speaking in a voice of affected calmness, said, 

' Here is Mr. Coningsby, aunt.' 

And truly at this moment our hero might be dis- 
cerned approaching the Hall by one of the avenues ; 
and in a few minutes, there was a ringing at the Hall 
bell, and then after a short pause, the servants an- 
nounced Mr. Coningsby, and ushered him into the 
morning room. 

Edith was embarrassed ; the frankness and the 
gaiety of her manner had deserted her ; Coningsby 
was rather earnest than self-possessed. Each felt 
at first, that the presence of Lady Wallinger was a 
relief. The ordinary topics of conversation were in 
suflEicient plenty ; reminiscences of Paris, impres- 
sions of Hellingsley, his visit to Oxford, Lady Wal- 
linger's visit to Cambridge. In ten minutes their 
voices seemed to sound to each other as they did in 
the Rue de Rivoli, and their mutual perplexity had 
in a great degree subsided. 

Oswald and Sir Joseph now entered the room, and 
the conversation became general. Hellingsley was 
the subject on which Coningsby dwelt ; he was 
charmed with all that he had seen ; wished to see 
more. Sir Joseph was quite perpared to accompany 
him ; but Lady Wallinger who seemed to read Con- 
ingsby's wishes in his eyes, proposed that the inspec- 
tion should be general ; and in the course of half an 
hour, Coningsby was walking by the side of Edith, 
and sympathising with all the natural charms to which 
her quick taste and lively expression called his notice 
and appreciation. Few things more delightful thun 
a country ramble with a sweet companion ! Explor- 
ing woods, wandering over green commons, loitering 

440 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

in shady lanes, resting on rural stiles ; the air full of 
perfume, the heart full of bliss ! 

It seemed to Coningsby that he had never been 
happy before. A thrilling joy pervaded his being. 
He could have sung like a bird. His heart was as 
sunny as the summer scene. Past and future were 
absorbed in the flowing hour ; not an allusion to 
Paris, not a speculation on what might arrive ; but 
infinite expressions of agreement, sympathy ; a multi- 
tude of slight phrases, that however couched, had but 
one meaning ; congeniality. He felt each moment 
her voice becoming more tender ; his heart gushing 
in soft expressions ; each moment he was more fas- 
cinated ; her step was grace, her glance was beauty ; 
now she touched him by some phrase of sweet sim- 
plicity ; or carried him spellbound by her airy merri- 
ment. 

Oswald assumed that Coningsby remained to dine 
with them. There was not even the ceremony of 
invitation. Coningsby could not but remember his 
dinner at Millbank, and the timid hostess whom he 
then addressed so often in vain, as he gazed on the 
bewitching and accomplished woman whom he now 
passionately loved. It was a most agreeable dinner. 
Oswald, happy in his friend being his guest under his 
own roof, indulged in unwonted gaiety. 

The ladies withdrew ; Sir Joseph began to talk 
politics, although the young men had threatened 
their fair companions immediately to follow them. 
This was the period of the Bed-Chamber Plot, when 
Sir Robert Peel accepted and resigned power in the 
course of three days. Sir Joseph, who had originally 
made up his mind to support a Conservative govern- 
ment when he deemed it inevitable, had for the last 
month endeavoured to compensate for this trifling 

441 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

error by vindicating the conduct of his friends, and 
reprobating the behaviour of those who had deprived 
her Majesty of the ' friends of her youth.' Sir 
Joseph was a most chivalrous champion of the 
' friends of her youth ' principle. Sir Joseph who 
was always moderate and conciliatory in his talk, 
though he would go, at any time, any lengths for his 
party, expressed himself to-day with extreme so- 
briety, as he was determined not to hurt the feelings 
of Mr. Coningsby, and he principally confined him- 
self to urging temperate questions, somewhat in the 
following fashion : 

' I admit that on the whole, under ordinary cir- 
cumstances, it would perhaps have been more con- 
venient that these appointments should have re- 
mained with Sir Robert, but don't you think that 
under the peculiar circumstances, being friends of 
her Majesty's youth ? &c., &c.' 

Sir Joseph was extremely astonished when Con- 
ingsby replied that he thought under no circum- 
stances should any appointment in the Royal House- 
hold be dependent on the voice of the House of 
Commons, though he was far from admiring the 
* friends of her youth ' principle, which he looked 
upon as very impertinent. 

' But surely,' said Sir Joseph, * the Minister being 
responsible to Parliament, it must follow that all 
great offices of State should be filled at his discre- 
tion.' 

' But where do you find this principle of Minjj 
terial responsibility.^' inquired Coningsby. 

* And is not a Minister responsible to his Sovi 
eign?' inquired Millbank. 

Sir Joseph seemed a little confused. He had 
ways heard that Ministers were responsible to Parlia- 

442 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

merit ; and he had a vague conviction, notwithstand- 
ing the reanimating loyalty of the Bed-Chamber 
Plot, that the Sovereign of England was a nonentity. 
He took refuge in indefinite expressions, and ob- 
served, * The Responsibility of Ministers is surely a 
constitutional doctrine!' 

' The Ministers of the Crown are responsible to 
their master ; they are not the Ministers of Parlia- 
ment.' 

' But then you know virtually,' said Sir Joseph, 

* the Parliament, that is the House of Commons, 
governs the country.' 

' It did before 1832,' said Coningsby ; ' but that is 
all past now. We got rid of that with the Venetian 
Constitution.' 

' The Venetian Constitution ! ' said Sir Joseph. 

' To be sure,' said Millbank. ' We were governed 
in this country by the Venetian Constitution from the 
accession of the House of Hanover. But that yoke 
is past. And now, I hope we are in a state of trans- 
ition from the Italian Dogeship to the English Mon- 
archy.' 

' King, Lords and Commons, the Venetian Con- 
stitution!' exclaimed Sir Joseph. 

' But they were phrases,' said Coningsby, ' not 
facts. The King was a Doge ; the Cabinet the Coun- 
cil of Ten. Your Parliament, that you call Lords 
and Commons, was nothing more than the Great 
Council of Nobles.' 

* The resemblance was complete,' said Millbank, 

* and no wonder, for it was not accidental ; the 
Venetian Constitution was intentionally copied.' 

' We should have had the Venetian Repubhc in 
1640,' said Coningsby, ' had it not been for the Puri- 
tans. Geneva beat Venice.' 

443 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

' 1 am sure these ideas are not very generally 
known,' said Sir Joseph bewildered. 

' Because you have had your history written by 
the Venetian party,' said Coningsby, ' and it has 
been their interest to conceal them.' 

* I will venture to say that there are very few men 
on our side in the House of Commons,' said Sir 
Joseph, ' who are aware that they were born under a 
Venetian Constitution.' 

* Let us go to the ladies,' said Millbank smiling. 
Edith was reading a letter as they entered. 

' A letter from papa,' she exclaimed looking up 
at her brother with great animation. * We may 
expect him every day, and yet, alas! he cannot fix 
one.' 

They now all spoke of Millbank, and Coningsby 
was happy that he was familiar with the scene. At 
length he ventured to say to Edith, ' You once made 
me a promise which you never fulfilled. I shall 
claim it to-night.' 

' And what can that be.^^' 

* The song that you promised me at Millbank 
more than three years ago.' 

* Your memory is very good.' 

* It has dwelt upon the subject.' 

Then they spoke for awhile of other recollections, 
and then, Coningsby appealing to Eady Wallinger 
for her influence, Edith rose and took up her guitar. 
Her voice was rich and sweet ; the air she sang gay, 
even fantastically frolick ; such as the girls of 
Granda chaunt trooping home from some country 
festival ; her soft, dark eye brightened with joyous 
sympathy ; and ever and anon, with an arch grace, 
she beat the guitar, in chorus, with her pretty hand. 

The moon wanes ; and Coningsby must leave these 
4.44 



I 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

enchanted halls. Oswald walked homeward with 
him, until he reached the domain of his grandfather. 
Then mounting his horse, Coningsby bade his friend 
farewell till the morrow, and made his best way to 
the Castle. 

CHAPTER V 

There is a romance in every life. The emblazoned 
page of Coningsby's existence was now open. It 
had been prosperous before ; with some moments of 
excitement ; some of delight ; but they had all 
found, as it were, their origin in worldly considera- 
tions, or been inevitably mixed up with them. At 
Paris for example, he loved, or thought he loved. 
But there not an hour could elapse without his meet- 
ing some person, or hearing something, which dis- 
turbed the beauty of his emotions or broke his spell- 
bound thoughts. There was his grandfather hating 
the Millbanks or Sidonia loving them ; and common 
people in the common world making common obser- 
vations on them ; asking who they were, or telling 
who they were ; and brushing the bloom of all life's 
fresh delicious fancies with their coarse handling. 

But now his feelings were ethereal. He loved, 
passionately — and he loved in a scene and in a society 
as sweet, as pure, and as refined, as his imagination 
and his heart. There was no malicious gossip, no 
callous chatter, to profane his ear and desecrate his 
sentiment. All that he heard or saw was worthy of 
the summer sky, the still green woods, the gushing 
river, the gardens and terraces, the stately and fan- 
tastic dwellings, among which his life now glided as 
in some dainty and gorgeous masque. 

All the soft, social domestic sympathies of his 
nature which, however abundant, had never been 

445 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

cultivated, were developed by the life he was now 
leading. It was not merely that he lived in the con- 
stant presence, and under the constant influence of 
one whom he adored, that made him so happy. He 
was surrounded by beings who found felicity in the 
interchange of kind feelings and kind words ; in the 
cultivation of happy talents and refined tastes ; and 
the enjoyment of a life which their own good sense 
and own good hearts made them both comprehend 
and appreciate. Ambition lost much of its splen- 
dour, even his lofty aspirations something of their 
hallowing impulse of paramount duty, when Con- 
ingsby felt how much ennobling delight was con- 
sistent with the seclusion of a private station ; and 
mused over an existence to be passed amid woods 
and waterfalls with a fair hand locked in his ; or 
surrounded by his friends in some ancestral hall. w| 

The morning after his first visit to Hellingsley, 
Coningsby rejoined his friends, as he had promised 
Oswald at their breakfast table ; and day after day, 
he came with the early sun, and left them only when 
the late moon silvered the keep of Coningsby Castle. 
Mr. Millbank who wrote daily, and was daily to be 
expected, did not arrive. A week, a week of un- 
broken bliss, had vanished away — passed in long 
rides and longer walks ; sunset saunterings, and 
sometimes moonlit strolls ; talking of flowers and 
thinking of things even sweeter ; listening to delici- 
ous songs, and sometimes reading aloud some bright 
romance, or some inspiring lay. 

One day, Coningsby who arrived at the Hall un- 
expectedly late ; indeed it was some hours past noon, 
for he had been detained by despatches which arrived 
at the Castle from Mr. Rigby and which required 
his interposition ; found the ladies alone, and was 

446 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

told that Sir Joseph and Oswald were at the fishing 
cottage, where they wished him to join them. He 
was in no haste to do this ; and Lady Wallinger pro- 
posed, that when they felt inclined to ramble, they 
should all walk down to the fishing cottage together. 
So seating himself by the side of Edith who was tint- 
ing a sketch which she had made of a rich oriel of 
Hellingsley, the morning passed away in that slight 
and yet subtle talk in which a lover delights, and in 
which, while asking a thousand questions, that seem 
at the first glance, sufficiently trifling, he is indeed 
often conveying a meaning that is not expressed, or 
attempting to discover a feeling that is hidden. And 
these are occasions, when glances meet, and glances 
are withdrawn : the tongue may speak idly, the eye 
is more eloquent ; and often more true. 

Coningsby looked up ; Lady Wallinger who had 
more than once announced, that she was going to 
put on her bonnet, was gone. Yet still he con- 
tinued to talk trifles ; and still Edith listened. 

' Of all that you have told me,' said Edith, ' no- 
thing pleases me so much as your description of St. 
Genevieve. How much I should like to catch the 
deer at sunset on the heights ! What a pretty draw- 
ing it would make!' 

' You would like Eustace Lyle,' said Coningsby. 
' He is so shy and yet so ardent.' 

' You have such a band of friends, Oswald was 
saying this morning there was no one who had so 
many devoted friends.' 

* We are all united by sympathy ; it is the only 
bond of friendship ; and yet friendship — ' 

' Edith,' said Lady Wallinger looking into the 
room from the garden with her bonnet on, ' you will 
find me roaming on the terrace.' 

447 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

' We come, dear aunt.' 

And yet they did not move. There were yet a 
few pencil touches to be given to the tinted sketch ; 
Coningsby would cut the pencils. 

' Would you give me,' he said, ' some slight 
memorial of Hellingsley and your art ! I would not 
venture to hope for anything half so beautiful as 
this; but the slightest sketch. I should so like 
when away to have it hanging in my room.' 

A blush suffused the cheek of Edith, she turned 
her head a little aside, as if she were arranging some 
drawings. And then she said in a somewhat hushed 
and hesitating voice, 

' I am sure I will do so ; and with pleasure. A 
view of the Hall itself; I think that would be the 
best memorial. Where shall we take it from ? We 
will decide in our walk,' and she rose, and promis- 
ing immediately to return, left the room. 

Coningsby leant over the mantle in deep abstrac- 
tion, gazing vacantly on a miniature of the father of 
Edith. A light step roused him ; she had returned 
Unconsciously he greeted her with a glance of ine 
able tenderness. 

They went forth ; it was a grey, sultry day. IiT 
deed it was the covered sky which had led to the 
fishing scheme of the morning ; Sir Joseph was n 
very expert and accomplished angler ; and the Darl 
was renowned for its sport. They lingered before 
they reached the terrace where they were to find Lad\' 
Wallinger, observing the different points of view 
which the Hall presented, and debating which was 
to form the subject of Coningsby's drawing ; for al- 
ready it was to be not merely a sketch, but a draw- 
ing, the most finished that the bright and effective 
pencil of Edith could achieve. If it really were to 

448 



.d. I 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

be placed in his room, and were to be a memorial of 
Hellingsley, her artistic reputation demanded a 
master-piece. 

They reached the terrace : Lady Wallinger was 
not there ; nor could they observe her in the vicinity. 
Coningsby was quite certain that she had gone on- 
ward to the fishing cottage, and expected them to 
follow her ; and he convinced Edith of the justness 
of his opinion. To the fishing cottage therefore they 
bent their steps. They emerged from the gardens 
into the Park, sauntering over the table land, and 
seeking as much as possible the shade in the soft but 
oppressive atmosphere. At the limit of the table 
land their course lay by a wild and winding path 
through a gradual and wooded declivity. While they 
were yet in this craggy and romantic woodland, the 
i big, fervent drops began to fall. Coningsby urged 
' Edith to seek at once a natural shelter ; but she, who 
\ knew the country, assured him that the fishing cot- 
i tage was close by, and that they might reach it before 
I the rain could do them any harm. 
I And truly at this moment emerging from the 
' wood, they found themselves in the valley of the 
Darl. The river here was narrow and winding, but 
; full of life ; rushing and clear, but for the dark sky 
i it reflected ; with high banks of turf and tall trees ; 
the silver birch, above all others, in clustering 
groups ; infinitely picturesque. At the turn of the 
river, about two hundred yards distant, Coningsby 
', observed the low, dark roof of the fishing cottage on 
; its banks. They descended from the woods to the 
' margin of the stream, by a flight of turfen steps, 
Coningsby holding Edith's hand as he guided her 
progress. 

The drops became thicker; they reached, at a 
2F 449 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

rapid pace, the cottage. The absent boat indicated 
that Sir Joseph and Oswald were on the river. The 
cottage was an old building of rustic logs, with a very 
shelving roof so that you might obtain sufficient 
shelter without entering its walls. Coningsby found 
a rough garden seat for Edith. The shower was now 
violent. 

Nature, like man, sometimes weeps from gladness. 
It is the joy and tenderness of her heart that seek 
relief; and these are summer showers. In this in- 
stance, the vehemence of her emotion was transient, 
though the tears kept stealing down her cheek for a 
long time, and gentle sighs and sobs might for some 
period be distinguished. The oppressive atmos- 
phere had evaporated ; the grey, sullen tint had dis- 
appeared ; a soft breeze came dancing up the stream ; 
a glowing light fell upon the woods and waters ; the 
perfume of trees and flowers and herbs floated 
around. There was a carolling of birds ; a hum of 
happy insects in the air ; freshness and stir, and a 
sense of joyous life, pervaded all things ; it seemed 
that the heart of all creation opened. 

Coningsby, after repeatedly watching the shower 
with Edith, and speculating on its progress which 
did not much annoy them, had seated himself on a 
log almost at her feet. And assuredly a maiden and ; 
a youth more beautiful and engaging had seldom met j 
before in a scene more fresh and fair. Edith on her 
rustic seat watched the now blue and foaming river, 
and the birch trees with a livelier tint, and quivering 
in the sunset air ; an expression of tranquil bliss suf- 
fused her beautiful brow, and spoke from the thrilling 
tenderness of her soft dark eye. Coningsby gazed 
on that countenance with a glance of entranced 
rapture. His cheek was flushed, his eye gleamed 

450 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

with dazzling lustre. She turned her head, she met 
that glance, and, troubled, she withdrew her own. 

' Edith,' he said, in a tone of tremulous passion, 
' let me call you Edith ! Yes,' he continued, gently 
taking her hand, ' Let me call you my Edith ! I 
love you!' 

She did not withdraw her hand ; but turned away 
a face flushed as the impending twilight. 

CHAPTER VI 

It was past the dinner hour when Edith and Conings- 
by reached the Hall ; an embarrassing circumstance, 
but mitigated by the conviction, that they had not to 
encounter a very critical inspection. What then were 
their feelings, when the first servant that they met 
informed them, that Mr. Millbank had arrived! 
Edith never could have believed, that the return of 
her beloved father to his home could ever have been 
to her other than a cause of delight. And yet now 
she trembled when she heard the announcement. 
The mysteries of love were fast involving her exist- 
ence. But this was not the season of meditation. 
Her heart was still agitated by the tremulous admis- 
sion that she responded to that fervent and adoring 
love whose eloquent music still sounded in her ear, 
and the pictures of whose fanciful devotion flitted 
over her agitated vision. Unconsciously she pressed 
the arm of Coningsby as the servant spoke, and then 
without looking into his face, whispering him to be 
quick, she sprang away. 

As for Coningsby, notwithstanding the elation of 
his heart, and the ethereal joy which flowed in all his 
veins, the name of Mr. Millbank sounded something 
like a knell. However this was not the time to re- 

451 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

_ j 

fleet. He obeyed the hint of Edith ; made the most 
rapid toilette that ever was consummated by a happy 
lover, and in a few minutes entered the drawing-room 
of Hellingsley ; to encounter the gentleman whom 
he hoped by some means or other, quite inconceivable, 
might some day be transformed into his father-in-law, 
and the fulfilment of his consequent duties towards 
whom he had commenced by keeping him waiting for 
dinner. 

* How do you do, sir?' said Mr. Millbank, extend- 
ing his hand to Coningsby. ' You seem to have 
taken a long walk.' : m 

Coningsby looked round to the kind Lady Wal- 
linger, and half addressed his murmured answer to 
her, explaining how they had lost her, and their way, 
and were caiight in a storm or a shower, which as it 
terminated about three hours back, and the fishing 
cottage was little more than a mile from the Hall, very 
satisfactorily accounted for their not being in time for 
dinner. 

Lady Wallinger then said something about the 
lowering clouds having frightened her from the ter- 
race, and Sir Joseph and Oswald talked a little of their 
sport, and of their having seen an otter ; but there 
was or at least there seemed to Coningsby a tone of 
general embarrassment which distressed him. The 
fact is keeping people for dinner under any circum- 
stances is distressing. They are obliged to talk at the 
very moment when they wish to use their powers of 
expression for a very different purpose. They arc 
faint, and conversation makes them more exhausted. 
A gentleman too, fond of his family, who in turn are 
devoted to him, making a great and inconvenient 
effort to reach them by dinner time ; to please and 
surprise them ; and finding them all dispersed, dinner 

452 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

so late, that he might have reached home in good 
time without any great inconvenient effort, his 
daughter whom he has wished a thousand times to 
embrace, taking a singularly long ramble with no 
other companion than a young gentleman, whom he 
did not exactly expect to see ; all these are circum- 
stances individually perhaps slight, and yet encoun- 
tered collectively, it m.ay be doubted whether they 
would not a little ruffle even the sweetest temper. 

Mr. Millbank too had not the sweetest temper, 
though not a bad one ; a little quick and fiery. But 
then he had a kind heart. And when Edith, who had 
providentially sent down a message to order dinner, 
entered and embraced him at the very moment that 
dinner was announced, her father forgot everything in 
his joy in seeing her, and his pleasure in being sur- 
rounded by his friends. He gave his hand to Lady 
Wallinger ; and Sir Joseph led away his niece. 
Coningsby put his arm round the astonished neck of 
Oswald as if they were once more in the playing 
fields of Eton. 

' By Jove ! my dear fellow,' he exclaimed, * I am 
so sorry we kept your father for dinner.' 

As Edith headed her father's table, according to his 
rigid rule, Coningsby was on one side of her. They 
never spoke so little ; Coningsby would have never 
unclosed his lips, had he followed his humour. He 
was in a stupor of happiness ; the dining-room took 
the appearance of the fishing cottage ; and he saw 
nothing but the flowing river. Lady Wallinger was 
however next to him, and that was a relief ; for he 
felt always she was his friend. Sir Joseph a good- 
hearted man, and on subjects with which he was 
acquainted full of sound sense, was invaluable to-day, 
for he entirely kept up the conversation, speaking of 

453 



ii 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

things which greatly interested Mr. Millbank. And 
so their host soon recovered his good temper ; he 
addressed several times his observations to Conings- 
by, and was careful to take wine with him. On the 
whole, affairs went on flowingly enough. The gentle- 
men indeed stayed much longer over their wine than 
on the preceding days, and Coningsby did not venture 
on the liberty of quitting the room before his host. 
It was as well. Edith required repose. She tried to 
seek it on the bosom of her aunt, as she breathed to 
her the delicious secret of her life. When the gentle- 
men returned to the drawing-room, the ladies were 
not there. 

This rather disturbed Mr. Millbank again ; he had 
not seen enough of his daughter ; he wished to hear 
her sing. But Edith managed to reappear ; and even 
to sing. Then Coningsby went up to her and asked 
her to sing the song of the Girls of Granada. She 
said in a low voice, and with a fond yet serious look, 

' I am not in the mood for such a song, but if you 
wish me — ' 

She sang it with inexpressible grace, and with an 
arch vivacity, that to a fine observer would have 
singularly contrasted with the almost solemn and even 
troubled expression of her countenance a moment 
afterwards. 

The day was about to die ; the day the most im- 
portant, the most precious, in the lives of Harry 
Coningsby and Edith Millbank. Words had been 
spoken, vows breathed, which were to influence their 
careers for ever. For them hereafter there was to be 
but one life, one destiny, one world. Each of them 
was still in such a state of tremulous excitement, that 
neither had found time or occasion to ponder over the 
mighty result. They both required solitude ; they 

454 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

both longed to be alone. Coningsby rose to depart. 
He pressed the soft hand of Edith, and his glance 
spoke his soul. 

* We shall see you at breakfast to-morrow, 
Coningsby!' said Oswald, very loud, knowing that 
the presence of his father would make Coningsby 
hesitate about coming. Edith's heart fluttered ; but 
she said nothing. It was with delight she heard her 
father, after a moment's pause, say, 

' Oh ! I beg we may have that pleasure.' 
' Not quite at so early an hour,' said Coningsby, 
' but if you will permit me, I hope to have the 
pleasure of hearing from you to-morrow, sir, that 
your journey has not fatigued you.' 

CHAPTER VII 

To be alone ; to have no need of feigning a tran- 
quillity he could not feel ; of coining common-place 
courtesy, when his heart was gushing with rapture ; 
this was a great relief for Coningsby, though gained 
by a separation from Edith. 

The deed was done ; he had breathed his long 
brooding passion, he had received the sweet expres- 
sion of her sympathy, he had gained the long coveted 
heart. Youth, beauty, love, the innocence of un- 
sophisticated breasts, and the inspiration of an ex- 
quisite nature, combined to fashion the spell that now 
entranced his life. He turned to gaze upon the 
moonlit towers and peaked roofs of Hellingsley. 
Silent and dream-like, the picturesque pile rested on 
its broad terrace flooded with the silver light, and sur- 
rounded by the quaint bowers of its fantastic gardens 
tipped by the glittering beam. Flalf hid in deep 
shadow, half sparkling in the midnight blaze, he 

455 



CONINGSBY Book VH 

recognized the oriel window that had been the subject 
of the morning's sketch. Almost he wished there 
should be some sound to assure him of his reality. 
But nothing broke the all-pervading stillness. Was 
his life to be as bright and as tranquil .^^ And what 
was to be his life.'' 

Whither was he to bear the beautiful bride he had 
gained .^^ Were the portals of Coningsby the proud 
and hospitable gates that were to greet her.'^ How 
long would they greet him after the achievement of 
the last four and twenty hours was known to their 
Lord.f* Was this the return for the confiding kind- 
ness of his grandsire.f* That he should pledge his 
troth to the daughter of that grandsire's foe ? 

Away with such dark and scaring visions! Is it 
not the noon of a summer night fragrant with the 
breath of gardens, bright with the beam that lovers 
love, and soft with the breath of Ausonian breezes.'* 
Within that sweet and stately residence, dwells there 
not a maiden fair enough to revive chivalry ; who is 
even now thinking of him as she leans on her pensive 
hand, or if perchance she dream, recalls him in her 
visions? And himself, is he one who would cry 
craven with such a lot! What avail his golden 
youth, his high blood, his daring and devising spirit, 
and all his stores of wisdom, if they help not now ! 

Does not he feel the energy divine that can con- 
front fate and carve out fortunes ? Besides it is nigh 
Midsummer Eve, and what should fairies reign for, 
but to aid such a bright pair as this.f^ 

He recalls a thousand times the scene, the moment, 
in which but a few hours past, he dared to tell her that 
he loved ; he recalls a thousand times the still, small 
voice, that murmured her agitated felicity ; more than 
a thousand times, for his heart clenched the idea x 

4S^> 



I 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 



diver grasps a gem, he recalls the enraptured yet 
gentle embrace, that had sealed upon her blushing 
cheek his mystical and delicious sovereignty. 

CHAPTER VIII 

The morning broke lowering and thunderous ; small 
white clouds, dull and immovable, studded the leaden 
sky ; the waters of the rushing Darl seemed to have 
become black and almost stagnant ; the terraces of 
Hellingsley looked like the hard lines of a model ; 
and the mansion itself had a harsh and metallic char- 
acter. Before the chief portal of his Hall, the elder 
Millbank, with an air of some anxiety, surveyed the 
landscape and the heavens, as if he were speculating 
on the destiny of the day. 

Often his eye wandered over the park ; often with 
an uneasy and restless step he paced the raised walk 
before him. The clock of Hellingsley church had 
given the chimes of noon. His son and Coningsby 
appeared at the end of one of the avenues. His eye 
lightened ; his lip became compressed ; he advanced 
to meet them. 

'Are you going to fish to-day, Oswald.'^' he in- 
quired of his son. 

' We had some thoughts of it, sir.' 

* A fine day for sport, I should think,' he observed 
as he turned towards the Hall with them. 

Coningsby remarked the fanciful beauty of the 
portal ; its twisted columns, and Caryatides carved in 
dark oak. 

' Yes, it's very well,' said Millbank, ' but I really 
do not know why I came here ; my presence is an 
effort. Oswald does not care for the place ; none of 
us do, I believe.' 

457 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

' Oh ! I like it now father ; and Edith dotes 
on it.' 

' She was very happy at Millbank,' said the father 
rather sharply. 

' We are all of us happy at Millbank,' said 
Oswald. 

' I was much struck with the valley and the whole 
settlement when I first saw it,' said Coningsby. 

' Suppose you go and see about the tackle, Oswald,' 
said Mr. Millbank, ' and Mr. Coningsby and I will 
take a stroll on the terrace in the meantime.' 

The habit of obedience which was supreme in this 
family instantly carried Oswald away, though he was 
rather puzzled why his father should be so particularly 
anxious about the preparation of the fishing tackle, as 
he very rarely used it. His son had no sooner 
departed than Mr. Millbank turned to Coningsby 
and said very abruptly. 

* You have never seen my own room here, Mr. 
Coningsby ; step in ; for I wish to say a word or two 
to you.' And thus speaking, he advanced before the 
astonished, and rather agitated Coningsby, and led 
the way through a door and long passage to a room of 
moderate dimensions, partly furnished as a library, 
and full of parHamentary papers and blue books. 
Shutting the door with some earnestness and pointing 
to a chair, he begged his guest to be seated. Both in 
their chairs, Mr. Millbank clearing his throat, said 
without preface, ' I have reason to believe, Mr. Con- 
ingsby, that you are attached to my daughter.' 

' I have been attached to her for a long time ; most 
ardently,' replied Coningsby in a calm and rather 
measured tone, but looking very pale. 

' And I have reason to believe that she returns your 
attachment,' said Mr. Millbank. 

458 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

* I believe she deigns — not to disregard it,' said 
Coningsby, his white cheek becoming scarlet. 

' It is then a mutual attachment, which if cherished, 
must produce mutual unhappiness,' said Mr. Mill- 
bank. 

' I would fain believe the reverse,' said Coningsby. 

'Why?' inquired Mr. Millbank. 

* Because I believe she possesses every charm, 
quality and virtue, that can bless man ; and because, 
though I can make her no equivalent return, I have a 
heart, if I know myself, that would struggle to 
deserve her.' 

' I know you to be a man of sense ; I believe you to 
be a man of honour,' replied Mr. Millbank. ' As the 
first, you must feel that an union between you and my 
daughter is impossible ; what then should be your 
duty as a man of correct principle is obvious.' 

' I could conceive that our union might be attended 
with difficulties,' said Coningsby in a somewhat de- 
precating tone. 

' Sir, it is impossible,' repeated Mr. Millbank inter- 
rupting him though not with harshness, ' that is to say 
there is no conceivable marriage which could be 
cjfFected at greater sacrifices, and which would occasion 
greater misery.' 

' The sacrifices are more apparent to me than the 
misery,' said Coningsby, ' and even they may be 
imaginary.' 

' The sacrifices and the misery are certain and 
inseparable,' said Mr. Millbank. ' Come now, see 
how we stand ! I speak without reserve, for this is a 
subject vrhich cannot permit misconceptions, but with 
no feeling towards you, sir, but fair and very friendly 
ones. You are the grandson of my Lord Mon- 
mouth ; at present enjoying his favour, but dependent 

459 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

on his bounty. You may be the heir of his wealth 
to-morrow, and to-morrow you may be the object of 
his hatred and persecution. Your grandfather and 
myself are foes : bitter, irreclaimable, to the death. 
It is idle to mince phrases; I do not vindicate our 
mutual feelings, I may regret that they have ever 
arisen; I may regret it especially at this exigency. 
They are not the feelings of good Christians ; they 
may be altogether to be deplored and unjustifiable ; 
but they exist, mutually exist ; and have not been 
confined to words. Lord Monmouth would crush 
me had he the power, like a worm ; and I have curbed 
his proud fortunes often. Were it not for this feel- 
ing, I should not be here ; _I purchased this estate 
merely to annoy him, as I have done a thousand other 
■acfs^merely for his discomfiture and mortification. In 
our long encounter I have done him infinitely more 
injury than he could do me ; I have been on the spot, 
I am active, vigilant, the maker of my fortunes. He 
is an Epicurean, continually in foreign parts, obliged 
to leave the fulfilment of his will to others. But for 
these very reasons his hate is more intense. I can 
afford to hate him less than he hates me — I have 
injured him more. Here are feelings to exist be- 
tween human beings! But they do exist — and now 
you are to go to this man, and ask his sanction to 
marry my daughter ! ' 

' But I would appease these hatreds ; I would allay 
these dark passions, the origin of which I know not, 
but which never could justify the end, and which lead 
to so much misery. I would appeal to my grand- 
father — I would show him Edith.' 

' He has looked upon as fair even as Edith,' said 
Mr. Millbank rising suddenly from his seat, anti 
pacing the room, ' and did that melt his heart ? The 

460 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

experience of your own lot should have guarded you 
from the perils that you have so rashly meditated 
encountering, and the misery which you have been 
preparing for others besides yourself. Is my daughter 
to be treated like your mother? And by the same 
hand? Your mother's family were not Lord Mon- 
mouth's foes. They were simple and innocent 
people, free from all the bad passions of our nature, 
and ignorant of the world's ways. But because they 
were not noble, because they could trace no mystified 
descent from a foreign invader or the sacrilegious 
minion of some spoliating despot, their daughter was 
hunted from the family which should have exulted to 
receive her, and the land of which she was the native 
ornament. Why should a happier lot await you than 
fell to your parents ? You are in the same position as 
your father ; you meditate the same act. The only 
difference being aggravating circumstances in your 
case, which even if I were a member of the same 
order as my Lord Monmouth, would prevent the 
possibility of a prosperous union. Marry Edith, and 
you blast all the prospects of your life, and entail on 
her a sense of unceasing humiliation. Would you do 
this? Should I permit you to do this?' 

Coningsby with his head resting on his arm his face 
a little shaded, his eyes fixed on the ground, listened 
in silence. There was a pause ; broken by Con- 
ingsby, as in a low voice, without changing his pos- 
ture or raising his glance, he said : ' It seems, sir, 
that you were acquainted with my mother?' 

' I knew sufficient of her,' replied Mr. Millbank 
with a kindling cheek, ' to learn the misery that a 
woman may entail on herself by marrying out of her 
condition. I have bred my children in a respect for 
their class. I believe they have imbibed my feeling ; 

461 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

though it is strange how in the commerce of the 
world, chance, in their friendships, has apparently 
baffled my designs.' 

' Oh ! do not say it is chance, sir,' said Coningsby 
looking up, and speaking with much fervour. ' The 
feelings that animate me towards your family are not 
the feelings of chance : they are the creation of 
sympathy ; tried by time, tested by thought. And 
must they perish.^ Can they perish .^^ They 
were inevitable ; they are indestructible. Yes, 
sir, it is in vain to speak of the enmities 
that are fostered between you and my grand- 
father ; the love that exists between your daughter 
and myself is stronger than all your hatreds.' 

* You speak like a young man, and a young man 
that is in love,' said Mr. Millbank. ' This is mere 
rhapsody ; it will vanish in an instant before the 
reality of life. And you have arrived at that reality,' 
he continued, speaking with emphasis, leaning over 
the back of his chair and looking steadily at Con- 
ingsby with his grey, sagacious eye, * My daughter 
and yourself can meet no more.' 

' It is impossible you can be so cruel ! ' exclaimed 
Coningsby. 

^ So kind ; kind to you both ; for I wish to be kind 
to you as well as to her. You are entitled to kindness 
from us all ; though I will tell you now, that, years 
ago, when the news arrived that my son's life had been 
saved, and had been saved by one who bore the name 
of Coningsby, I had a presentiment great as was the 
blessing, that it might lead to unhappiness.' 

* I can answer for the misery of one,' said Con- 
ingsby, in a tone of great despondency. ' I feel as if 
my sun were set. Oh! why should there be such 
wretchedness! Why are there family hatreds and 

462 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

party feuds! Why am I the most wretched of 
men!' 

' My good young friend, you will live I doubt not 
to be a very happy one. Happiness is not as we are 
apt to fancy entirely dependent on these contingencies. 
It is the lot of most men to endure what you are now 
suffering, and they can look back to such conjunctures 
through the vista of years with calmness.' 

* I may see Edith now ?^ 

* Frankly, I should say, no. My daughter is in her 
room ; I have had some conversation with her. Of 
course she suffers not less than yourself. To see her 
again, will only aggravate woe. You leave under 
this roof, sir, some sad memories, but no unkind ones. 
It is not likely that I can serve you, or that you may 
want my aid ; but whatever may be in my power, 
remember you may command it — without reserve 
and without restraint. If I control myself now, it 
is not because I do not respect your affliction, but 
because in the course of my life I have felt too much 
not to be able to command my feelings.' 

' You never could have felt what I feel now,' said 
Coningsby, in a tone of anguish. 

* You touch on delicate ground,' said Millbank, 
' yet from me you may learn to suffer. There was a 
being once, not less fair than the peerless girl that you 

I would fain call your own, and her heart was my proud 
i possession. There were no family feuds to baffle our 
union, nor was I dependent on anything, but the 
energies which had already made me flourishing. 
What happiness was mine! It was the first dream 
of my life, and it was the last ; my solitary passion, 
the memory of which softens my heart. Ah! you 
dreaming scholars, and fine gentlemen who saunter 
through life, you think there is no romance in the 

463 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

loves of a man who lives in the toil and turmoil of 
business. You are in deep error. Amid my career 
of travail, there was ever a bright form which ani- 
mated exertion ; inspired rny invention, nerved my 
energy, and to gain whose heart and life, I first made 
many of those discoveries and entered into many of 
those speculations, that have since been the founda- 
tion of my wide prosperity. 

' Her faith was pledged to me ; I lived upon her 
image ; the day was even talked of when I should 
bear her to the home that I had proudly prepared for 
her. 

^ There came a young noble, a warrior who had 
never seen war, glittering with gew-gaws. He was 
quartered in the town where the mistress of my 
heart, and who was soon to share my life and my 
fortunes, resided. The tale is too bitter not to be 
brief. He saw her, he sighed ; I will hope that he 
loved her ; she gave him with rapture the heart whicl^ 
perhaps she found she had never given me ; and 
instead of bearing the name I had once hoped to have 
called her by, she pledged her faith at the altar to one 
who like you was called — Coning s by.' x 

IMy mother !' 

'"You see, I too have had my griefs.' 

* Dear sir,' said Coningsby, rising and taking Mr. 
Millbank's hand, ' I am most wretched ; and yet I 
wish to part from you even with affection. 
You have explained circumstances that have 
long perplexed me. A curse I fear is c^n 
our families. I have not mind enough at this 
moment even to ponder on my situation. My 
head is a chaos. I go ; yes, I quit this Hellingsley, 
where I came to be so happy, where I have been so 
happy. Nay, let me go, dear sir ! I must be alone, 

464 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 



I must try to think. And tell her — no, tell her no- 
thing. God will guard over us ! ' 

Proceeding down the avenue with a rapid and dis- 
tempered step, his countenance lost as it were in a 
wild abstraction, Coningsby encountered Oswald 
Milbank. He stopped, collected his turbulent 
thoughts, and throwing on Oswald one glance that 
seemed at the same time to communicate woe 
and to demand sympathy, flung himself into his 
arms. 

' My friend ! ' he exclaimed, and then added in a 
broken voice, ' I need a friend.' 

Then in a hurried, impassioned, and somewhat 
incoherent strain, leaning on Oswald's arm, as they 
walked on together, he poured forth all that had 
occurred, all of which he had dreamed ; his baffled 
bliss, his actual despair. Alas ! there was little room 

j for solace, and yet all that earnest affection could 
inspire and a sagacious brain and a brave spirit were 

i offered for his support, if not his consolation, by the 

, friend who was devoted to him. 

In the midst of this deep communion, teeming with 

' every thought and sentiment that could enchain and 
absorb the spirit of man, they came to one of the park 
gates of Coningsby. Millbank stopped. The com- 
mand of his father was peremptory, that no member 
of his family under any circumstances or for any con- 
sideration should set his foot on that domain. Lady 
Wallinger had once wished to have seen the Castle, 
and Coningsby was only too happy in the prospect of 
escorting her and Edith over the place ; but Oswald 
had then at once put his veto on the project, as a 
thing forbidden ; and which if put in practice his 
father would never pardon. So it passed off, and 

;now Oswald himself was at the gates of that very 

! 2G 465 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

domain with his friend who was about to enter them, 
his friend whom he might never see again, that Con- 
ingsby who from their boyish days had been the idol 
of his life, whom he had lived to see appeal to his 
affections and his sympathy, and whom Oswald was 
now going to desert in the midst of his lonely and 
unsolaced woe. 

' I ought not to enter here,' said Oswald holding 
the hand of Coningsby as he hesitated to advance; 
' and yet there are duties more sacred even than 
obedience to a father. I cannot leave you thus, friend 
of my best heart ! ' 

The morning passed away in unceasing yet fruitless 
speculation on the future. One moment something 
was to happen, the next nothing could occur. Some- 
times a beam of hope flashed over the fancy of Con- 
ingsby, and jumping up from the turf, on which they 
were reclining, he seemed to exult in his renovated 
energies ; and then this sanguine paroxysm was suc- 
ceeded by a fit of depression so dark and dejected, 
that nothing but the presence of Oswald seemed to 
prevent Coningsby from flinging himself into the 
waters of the Darl. 

The day was fast declining, and the inevitable 
moment of separation was at hand. Oswald wished 
to appear at the dinner table of Hellingsley that no 
suspicion might arise in the mind of his father of his 
having accompanied Coningsby home. But just asi 
he was beginning to mention the necessity of his 
departure, a flash of lightning seemed to transfix the 
heavens. The sky was very dark ; though studded 
here and there with dingy spots. The young men 
sprang up at the same time. 

* We had better get out of these trees,' said 
Oswald. 

466 



Chapter VIII CONINGSBY 

' We had better get to the Castle,' said Con- 
ingsby. 

A clap of thunder that seemed to make the park 
quake broke over their heads, followed by some thick 
drops. The Castle was close at hand ; Oswald had 
avoided entering it ; but the impending storm was 
so menacing, that hurried on by Coningsby he could 
make no resistance ; and in a few minutes, the com- 
panions were watching the tempest from the windows 
of a room in Coningsby Castle. 

The forked lightning flashed and scintillated from 
every quarter of the horizon ; the thunder broke over 
the Castle as if the keep were rocking with artillery ; 
amid the momentary pauses of the explosion, the rain 
was heard descending like dissolving water-spouts. 

Nor was this one of those transient tempests that 
often agitate the summer. Time advanced, and its 
fierceness was little mitigated. Sometimes there was 
a lull, though the violence of the rain never appeared 
{ to diminish ; but then as in ^some pitched fight be- 
tween contending hosts, when the fervour of the field 
seems for a moment to allay, fresh squadrons arrive 
and renew the hottest strife, so a low moaning wind 
that was now at intervals faintly heard, bore up a 
great reserve of electric vapour, that formed as it 
were into field, in the space between the Castle and 
Hellingsley, and then discharged its violence on that 
fated district. 

Coningsby and Oswald exchanged looks. * You 
must not think of going home at present, my dear 
fellow,' said the first. ' I am sure your father would 
not be displeased. There is not a being here who 
even knows you, and if they did — what then.?' 

The servant entered the room, and inquired 
whether the gentlemen were ready for dinner. 

467 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

'By all means; come, my dear Millbank, I feelj 
reckless as the tempest ; let us drown our cares in ' 
wine ! ' 

Coningsby in fact was exhausted by all the agitation 
of the day, and all the harassing spectres of the future. 
He found wine a momentary solace. He ordered the 
servants away, and for a moment felt a degree of 
wild satisfaction in the company of the brother of 
Edith. 

Thus they sate for a long time, talking only of one 
subject, and repeating almost the same things, yet 
both felt happier in being together. Oswald had 
risen, and opening the window, examined the ap- 
proaching night. The storm had lulled, though the 
rain still fell ; in the west was a streak of light. In a 
quarter of an hour he calculated on departing. As 
he was watching the wind, he thought he heard the 
sound of wheels, which reminded him of Coningsby's 
promise to lend him a light carriage for his return. 

They sate down once more ; they had filled their 
glasses for the last time ; to pledge to their faithful 
friendship, and the happiness of Coningsby and 
Edith ; when the door of the room opened, and 
there appeared — Mr. Rigby. 



468 



BOOK Fill 



CHAPTER I 



It was the heart of the London season, nearly four 
years ago ; twelve months having almost elapsed 
since the occurrence of those painful passages at Hel- 
lingsley which closed the last book of this history ; 
and long lines of carriages an hour before midnight, 
up the classic mount of St. James and along Picca- 
dilly, intimated that the world were received at some 
grand entertainment in Arlington Street. 

It was the town mansion of the noble family be- 
neath whose roof at Beaumanoir we have more than 
once introduced the reader, to gain whose courtyard 
was at this moment the object of emulous coachmen, 
and to enter whose saloons was to reward the martyr- 
like patience of their lords and ladies. 

Among the fortunate, who had already succeeded 
in bowing to their hostess, were two gentlemen, who 
ensconced in a good position surveyed the scene, and 
made their observations on the passing guests. They 
were gentlemen, who, to judge from their general air, 
and the great consideration with which they were 
treated by those who were occasionally in their 
vicinity, were personages whose criticism bore autho- 
rity. 

' I say. Jemmy,' said the eldest, a dandy who had 
469 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

dined with the Regent ; but who still was a dandy, 
and who enjoyed life almost as much as in the days 
when Carlton House occupied the Terrace which 
still bears it name. ' I say, Jemmy ; what a load of 
young fellows there are! Don't know their names 
at all. Begin to think fellows are younger than 
they used to be. Amazing load of young fellows 
indeed ! ' 

At this moment an individual who came under the 
fortunate designation of a young fellow ; but whose 
assured carriage hardly intimated that this was his 
first season in London, came up to the junior of the 
two critics ; and said, ' A pretty turn you played us 
yesterday at Whites', Melton. We waited dinner 
nearly an hour ! ' 

' My dear fellow, I am infinitely sorry ; but I was 
obliged to go down to Windsor, and I missed tl 
return train. A good dinner ? Who had you ?^ 

* A capital party, only you were wanted. We hac 
Beaumanoir, and Vere, and Jack Tufton, 
Spraggs.' 

' Was Spraggs rich ?^ 

* Wasn't he ! I have not done laughing 
He told us a story about the little Biron, who was 
over here last year — I knew her at Paris — and an 
Indian screen. Killing! Get him to tell it to you. 
The richest thing you ever heard!' 

* Who's your friend.'^' inquired Mr. Melton's com- 
panion, as the young man moved away. 

' Sir Charles Buckhurst.' 

'A— h! That is Sir Charles Buckhurst. Glad 
to have seen him. They say he is going it.' 

' He knows what he is about.' 

' Egad, so they all do. A young fellow now of 
two or three and twenty knows the world as men used 

470 



vas 
thei 

9 

I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

to do after as many years of scrapes. I wonder 
where there is such a thing as a greenhorn. Effie 
Crab says the reason he gives up his house is, that 
he has cleaned out the old generation ; and that the 
new generation would clean him.' 

' Buckhurst is not in that sort of way : he swears 
by Henry Sydney, a younger son of the Duke, 
whom you don't know ; and young Coningsby ; a 
sort of new set ; new ideas and all that sort of thing. 
Beau tells me a good deal about it ; and when I was 
staying with the Everinghams at Easter, they were 
full of it. Coningsby had just returned from his 
travels, and they were quite on the " qui vive." 
Lady Everingham is one of their set. I don't know 
what it is exactly; but I think we shall hear more 
of it.' 

' A sort of Animal Magnetism, or Unknown 
Tongues, I take it from your description,' said his 
companion. 

' Well, I don't know what it is,' said Mr. Melton ; 
' but it has got hold of all the young fellows who 
have just come out. Beau is a little bit himself. I 
had some idea of giving my mind to it ; they made 
such a fuss about it at Everingham ; but it requires 
a devilish deal of history I believe, and all that sort of 
thing.' 

' Ah ! that's a bore,' said his companion. ' It's 
difficult to turn to with a new thing when you are 
not in the habit of it. I never could manage char- 
ades.' 

Mr. Ormsby passing by, stopped, ' They told me 
you had the gout, Cassilis.'" he said to Mr. Melton's 
companion. 

* So I had ; but I have found out a fellow who 
cures the gout instanter. Tom Needham sent him 

471 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

to me. A German fellow ; pumice stone pills ; sort 
of a charm I believe, and all that kind of thing ; thej 
say it rubs the gout out of you. I sent him to Lux- 
borough who was very bad ; cured him directly j 
Luxborough swears by him.' 

' Luxborough believes in the Millennium,' sai( 
Mr. Ormsby. 

' But here's a new thing that Melton has been tell^ 
ing me of that all the world is going to believe in,! 
said Mr. Cassilis, ' something patronized by Ladj 
Everingham.' 

' A very good patroness,' said Mr. Ormsby. 

'Have you heard anything about it.'^' continues 
Mr. Cassilis. ' Young Coningsby brought it fron 
abroad, didn't you say so, Jemmy?' 

' No, no, my dear fellow ; it is not at all that soi 
of thing.' 

' But they say it requires a duced deal of history, 
continued Mr. Cassilis. ' One must brush up one'. 
Goldsmith. Canterton used to be the fellow for his 
tory at Whites'. He was always boring one with 
William the Conqueror, Julius Caesar and all that 
sort of thing.' 

' I tell you v/hat,' said Mr. Ormsby, looking both 
sly and solemn, ' I should not be surprised if some 
day or another, we have a history about Lady Ever- 
ingham and young Coningsby.' 

*Poh!' said Mr. Melton, * he is engaged to 
married to her sister. Lady Theresa.' 

'The deuce!' said Mr. Ormsby, 'well, you ai 
friend of the family, and I suppose you know.' 

' He is a devilish good-looking fellow, that young 
Coningsby,' said Mr. Cassilis. ' All the women are 
in love with him, they say. Lady Eleanor Due' 
quite raves about him.' 

472 



3 b^ 

4 




Chapter I CONINGSBY 



' By the bye, his grandfather has been very unwell,' 
said Mr. Ormsby, looking mysteriously. 

' I saw Lady Monmouth here just now,' said Mr. 
Melton. 

' Oh ! he is quite well again,' said Mr. Ormsby. 

* Got an odd story at Whites' that Lord Mon- 
mouth was going to separate from her,' said Mr. 
Cassilis. 

' No foundation,' said Mr. Ormsby, shaking his 
head. 

' They are not going to separate, I believe,' said 
Mr. Melton, ' but I rather think there was a founda- 
tion for the rumour.' 

Mr. Ormsby still shook his head. 

' Well,' continued Mr. Melton, ' all I know is that 
it was looked upon last winter at Paris as a settled 
thing.' 

' There was some story about some Hungarian," 
said Mr. Cassilis. 

* No, that blew over,' said Mr. Melton, ' it was 
Trautsmandorff the row was about.' 

All this time Mr. Ormsby, as the friend of Lord 
and Lady Monmouth, remained shaking his head ; 
but as a member of society, who delighted in small 
scandal, appropriating the gossip with the greatest 
avidity. 

' I should think old Monmouth was not the sort 
of fellow who would blow up a woman,' said Mr. 
Cassilis. 

' Provided she would leave him quietly,' said Mr. 
Melton. 

* Yes, Lord Monmouth never could live with a 
woman more than two years,' said Mr. Ormsby, 
pensively. ' And that I thought at the time rather 
an objection to his marriage.' 

473 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

We must now briefly revert to what befel our hero 
after those unhappy occurrences in the midst of whose 
first woe we left him. 

The day after the arrival of Mr. Rigby at the 
Castle, Coningsby quitted it for London ; and be- 
fore a week had elapsed had embarked for ^diz. 
He felt a romantic interest in visiting the land to 
which Edith owed some blood, and in acquiring the 
language which he had often admired as she spoke 
it. A favourable opportunity permitted him in the 
autumn to visit Athens and the iEgean, which he 
much desired. In the pensive beauties of that deli- 
cate land, where perpetual autumn seems to reign, 
Coningsby found solace. There is something in the 
character of Grecian scenery which blends with the 
humour of the melancholy and the feelings of the 
sorrowful. Coningsby passed his winter at Rome. 
The wish of his grandfather had rendered it neces- 
sary for him to return to England somewhat abruptly. 
Lord Monmouth had not visited his native country 
since his marriage ; but the period that had elapsed 
since that event had considerably improved the pros- 
pects of his party. The majority of the Whig 
Cabinet in the House of Commons by 1 840 had be- 
come little more than nominal ; and though it was 
circulated among their friends, as if from the highest 
authority that ' one was enough,' there seemed daily 
a better chance of their being deprived even of that 
magical unit. For the first time in the history of 
this country since the introduction of the system of 
Parliamentary Sovereignty, the Government of Eng- 
land depended on the fate of single elections. And 
indeed by a single vote, it is remarkable to observe, 
the fate of the Whig government was ultimately de- 
cided. 

474 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

This critical state of affairs, duly reported to Lord 
Monmouth, revived his political passions, and offered 
him that excitement which he was ever seeking, and 
yet for which he often had to sigh. The Marquess 
too was weary of Paris. Every day he found it more 
difficult to be amused. Lucretia had lost her charm. 
He, from whom nothing could be concealed, per- 
ceived that often while she elaborately attempted to 
divert him, her mind was wandering elsewhere. 
Lord Monmouth was quite superior to all petty 
jealousy, and the vulgar feelings of inferior mortals ; 
but his sublime selfishness required devotion. He 
had calculated that a wife or a mistress who might be 
in love with another man, however powerfully their 
interests might prompt them, could not be so agree- 
able and amusing to their friends and husbands, as 
if they had no such distracting hold upon their hearts 
or their fancy. Latterly at Paris, while Lucretia 
became each day more involved in the vortex of 
society, where all admired, and some adored, her. 
Lord Monmouth fell into the easy habit of dining 
in his private rooms, sometimes tete-a-tete with Ville- 
becque, whose inexhaustible tales and adventures 
about a kind of society which Lord Monmouth had 
always preferred infinitely to the polished and some- 
what insipid circles in which he was born, had ren- 
dered him the prime favourite of his great patron. 
Sometimes Villebecque too brought a friend, male or 
otherwise, whom he thought invested with the rare 
faculty of distraction ; Lord Monmouth cared not 
who or what they were, provided they were divert- 
ing. 

Villebecque had written to Coningsby at Rome by 
his grandfather's desire to beg him to return to 
England and meet Lord Monmouth there. The 

475 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

letter was couched with all the respect and good 
feeling which Villebecque really entertained for him 
whom he addressed ; still a letter on such a subject 
from such a person was not agreeable to Coningsby, 
and his reply to it was direct to his grandfather ; 
Lord Monmouth however had entirely given over 
writing letters. 

Coningsby had met at Paris, on his way to Eng- 
land, Lord and Lady Everingham ; and he had 
returned with them. This revival of an old ac- 
quaintance was both agreeable and fortunate for our 
hero. The vivacity of a clever and charming woman 
pleasantly disturbed the brooding memory of Con- 
ingsby. There is no mortification however keen, no 
misery however desperate, which the spirit of a 
woman cannot in some degree lighten or alleviate. 
About too to make his formal entrance into the great 
world, he could not have secured a more valuable and 
accomplished female friend. She gave him every 
instruction, every intimation that was necessary ; 
cleared the social difficulties which in some degree arc 
experienced on their entrance into the world even by 
the most highly connected, unless they have this be- 
nign assistance ; planted him immediately in the 
position which was expedient ; took care that he 
was invited at once to the right houses ; and, with 
the aid of her husband, that he should become a memTj|j 
ber of the right clubs. "' 

' And who is to have the blue ribbon. Lord Esk- 
dale.'^' said the Duchess to that nobleman, as he 
entered and approached to pay his respects. 

' If I were Melbourne, I would keep it open,' 
replied his Lordship. * It is a mistake to give away 
too quickly.' 

' But suppose they go out ?^ said her Grace. 
476 



I 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

' Oh ! there is always a last day to clear the house. 
But they will be in another year. The cliff will not 
be sapped before then. We made a mistake last year 
about the ladies.' 

' I know you always thought so.' 

* Quarrels about women are always a mistake. One 
should make it a rule to give up to them, and then 
they are sure to give up to us.' 

' You have no great faith in our firmness?' 

' Male firmness is very often obstinacy ; women 

have always something better, worth all qualities ; 

they have tact.' 

* A compliment to the sex from so finished a critic 
as Lord Eskdale is appreciated.' 

But at this moment the arrival of some guests 
terminated the conversation, and Lord Eskdale 
moved away, and approached a group which Lady 
Everingham was enlightening. 

' My dear Lord Fitz-booby,' her Ladyship ob- 
served, ' in politics we require faith as well as in all 
other things.' 

Lord Fitz-booby looked rather perplexed ; but 
possessed of considerable official experience ; having 
held very high posts, some in the cabinet, for nearly 
a quarter of a century ; he was too versed to acknow- 
ledge that he had not understood a single word that 
had been addressed to him for the last ten minutes. 
He looked on with the same grave, attentive stol- 
idity, occasionally nodding his head, as he was wont 
of yore, when he received a deputation on sugar 
duties or joint stock banks, and when he made, as 
was his custom when particularly perplexed, an occa- 
sional note on a sheet of foolscap paper. 

' An Opposition in an age of Revolution,' con- 
tinued Lady Everingham, ' must be founded on 

477 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 



principles. It cannot depend on mere personal 
ability and party address taking advantage of circum- 
stances. You have not enunciated a principle for 
the last ten years ; and when you seemed on the 
point of acceding to power, it was not on a great 
question of national interest, but a technical dispute 
respecting the constitution of an exhausted sugar 
colony.' 

* If you are a Conservative party, we wish to know 
what you want to conserve,' said Lord Vere. 

' If it had not been for the Whig Abolition of 
Slavery,' said Lord Fitz-booby goaded into repartee, 
' Jamaica would not have been an exhausted sugar 
colony.' 

' Then what you do want to conserve is slavery,' 
said Lord Vere. 

' No,' said Lord Fitz-booby, * I am never for 
retracing our steps.' 

' But will you advance, will you move ? And 
where will you advance, and how will you move.'*' 
said Lady Everingham. 

* I think we have had quite enough of advancing,' 
said his Lordship. ' I had no idea your Ladyship 
was a member of the Movement party,' he added 
with a sarcastic grin. 

' But if it were bad. Lord Fitz-booby to move 
where we are, as you and your friends have always 
maintained, how can you reconcile it to principle to 
remain there ?^ said Lord Vere. 

' I would make the best of a bad bargain,' said 
Lord Fitz-booby. ^ With a Conservative govern- 
ment, a reformed Constitution would be less dan- 
gerous.' 

* Why ?'* said Lady Everingham. ' What are your 
distinctive principles that render the peril less.?' 

478 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

* I appeal to Lord Eskdale,' said Lord Fitz-booby, 
* there is Lady Everingham turned quite a Radical, 
I declare. Is not your Lordship of opinion that the 
country must be safer with a Conservative Govern- 
ment than with a Liberal?' 

' I think the country is always tolerably secure,' 
said Lord Eskdale. 

Lady Theresa leaning on the arm of Mr. Lyle 
came up at this moment and unconsciously made a 
diversion in favour of Lord Fitz-booby. 

' Pray, Theresa,' said Lady Everingham, * where 
is Mr. Coningsby .f^' 

Let us endeavour to ascertain. It so happened 

that on this day Coningsby and Henry Sydney dined 

at Grillion's, at an University club, where among 

many friends whom Coningsby had not met for a 

long time, and among delightful reminiscences, the 

unconscious hours stole on. It was late when they 

quitted Grillion's, and Coningsby's brougham was 

detained for a considerable time before its driver 

jl could insinuate himself into the line, which indeed 

i! he would never have succeeded in doing, had not he 

;l fortunately come across the coachman of the Duke 

! : of Agincourt, who being of the same politics as him- 

I self, belonging to the same club, and always black- 

1 1 balling the same men, let him in from a legitimate 

I party feeling ; so they arrived in Arlington Street at 

a very late hour. 

Coningsby was springing up the staircase, now not 
so crowded as it had been, and met a retiring party ; 
he was about to say a passing word to a gentleman 
as he went by, when suddenly Coningsby turned 
deadly pale. The gentleman could hardly be the 
cause, for it was the gracious and handsome presence 
of Lord Beaumanoir; the lady resting on his arm 

479 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

was Edith. They moved on while he was motion- 
less ; yet Edith and himself had exchanged glances. 
His was one of astonishment ; but what was the ex- 
pression of hers.? She must have recognised him 
before he had observed her. She was collected — 
and she expressed the purpose of her mind in a dis- 
tant and haughty recognition. Coningsby remained 
for a moment stupified ; then suddenly turning back, 
he bounded down stairs, and hurried into the cloak 
room. Fie met Lady Wallinger ; he spoke rapidly, 
he held her hand, did not listen to her answers, his 
eye wandering about. There were many persons 
present, at length he recognised Edith enveloped in 
her mantle. He went forward, he looked at her, as 
if he would have read her soul ; he said something. 
She changed colour as he addressed her ; but seemed 
instantly by an effort to rally and regain her equa- 
nimity ; replied to his inquiries with extreme brevity, 
and Lady Wallinger's carriage being announced, 
moved away with the same slight haughty salute as 
before, on the arm of Lord Beaumanoir. 

CHAPTER II 

Sadness fell over the once happy family of Millbank 
after the departure of Coningsby from Hellingsley. 
When the first pang was over, Edith had found some 
solace in the sympathy of her aunt, who had always 
appreciated and admired Coningsby ; but it was a 
sympathy which aspired only to soften sorrow, and 
not to create hope. But Lady Wallinger, though she 
lengthened her visit for the sake of her niece, in time 
quitted them ; and then the name of Coningsby was 
never heard by Edith. Her brother, shortly after 
the sorrowful and abrupt departure of his friend, had 

480 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 



gone to the factories where he remained, and of which 
in fliture, it was intended that he should assume the 
principal direction. Mr. Millbank himself, sustained 
at first by the society of his friend Sir Joseph to 
whom he was attached, and occupied with daily 
reports from his establishments and the transaction 
of the affairs of his numerous and busy constituents, 
was for awhile scarcely conscious of the alteration 
which had taken place in the demeanour of his 
daughter. But when they were once more alone to- 
gether, it was impossible any longer to be blind to the 
great change. That happy and equable gaiety of 
spirit, which seemed to spring from an innocent en- 
joyment of existence, and which had ever dis- 
tinguished Edith, was wanting. Her sunny glance 
was gone. She was not indeed always moody and 
dispirited, but she was fitful, unequal in her tone. 
That temper whose sweetness had been a domestic 
proverb, had become a little uncertain. Not that her 
affection for her father was diminished, but there 
were snatches of unusual irritability which momen- 
tarily escaped her, followed by bursts of tenderness 
that were the creatures of compunction. And often 
after some hasty word, she would throw her arms 
round her father's neck with the fondness of remorse. 
She pursued her usual avocations, for she had really 
too well regulated a mind, she was in truth a woman 
of too strong an intellect, to neglect any source of 
occupation and distraction. Her flowers, her pencil, 
and her books, supplied her with these ; and music 
soothed and at times beguiled her agitated thoughts. 
But there was no joy in the house, and in time Mr. 
Millbank felt it. 

Mr. Millbank was vexed, irritated, grieved. 
Edith, his Edith, the pride and delight of his exist- 
2 H 481 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

ence, who had been to him only a source of exultation 
and felicity, was no longer happy, was perhaps pining 
away ; and there was the appearance, the unjust ap- 
pearance that he, her fond father, was the cause and 
occasion of all this wretchedness. It would appear 
that the name of Coningsby to which he now owed a 
great debt of gratitude was still doomed to bear him 
mortification and misery. Truly had the young man 
said that there was a curse upon their two families. 
And yet on reflection it still seemed to Mr. Millbank 
that he had acted with as much wisdom and real kind- 
ness, as decision. How otherwise was he to have 
acted ? The union was impossible ; the speedier 
their separation therefore, clearly the better. Unfor- 
tunate indeed had been his absence from Hellingsley ; 
unquestionably his presence might have prevented 
the catastrophe. Oswald should have hindered all 
this. And yet Mr. Millbank could not shut his eyes 
to the devotion of his son to Coningsby. He felt he 
could count on no assistance in this respect from that 
quarter. Yet how hard upon him that he should 
seem to figure as a despot or a tyrant to his own 
children whom he loved, when he had absolutely 
acted in an inevitable manner. Edith seemed sad, 
Oswald sullen, all was changed. All the objects for 
which this clear-headed, strong-minded, kind-hearted 
man had been working all his life, seemed to be 
frustrated. And why.^^ Because a young man had 
made love to his daughter, who was really in no 
manner entitled to do so. 

As the autumn drew on, Mr. Millbank found Hel- 
lingsley, under existing circumstances, extremely 
wearisome ; and he proposed to his daughter that 
they should pay a visit to their earlier home. Edith 
assented without difficulty, but without interest. 

482 



i 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

And yet, as Mr. Millbank immediately perceived, the 
change was a very judicious one ; for certainly the 
spirits of Edith seemed to improve very soon after 
her return to their valley. There were more objects 
of interest : change too is always beneficial. If Mr. 
Millbank had been aware that Oswald had received a 
letter from Coningsby, written before he quitted 
Spain, perhaps he might have recognised a more satis- 
factory reason for the transient liveliness of his 
daughter which had so greatly gratified him. 

About a month after Christmas, the meeting of 
Parliament summoned Mr. Millbank up to London ; 
and he had wished Edith to accompany him. But 
London in February to Edith, without friends or con- 
nexions, her father always occupied and absent from 
her day and night, seemed to them all on reflection, to 
be a life not very conducive to health or cheerfulness, 
and therefore she remained with her brother. Oswald 
had heard from Coningsby again from Rome ; but at 
the period he wrote he did not anticipate his return to 
England. His tone was affectionate, but dispirited. 

Lady Wallinger went up to London after Easter for 
the season, and Mr. Millbank, now that there was a 
constant companion for his daughter, took a house 
and carried Edith back with him to London. Lady 
Wallinger who had great wealth and great tact, had 
obtained by degrees a not inconsiderable position in 
society. She had a very fine house in a very fashion- 
able situation, and gave profuse entertainments. The 
Whigs were under great obligations to her husband, 
and the great Whig ladies were gratified to find in 
his wife a polished and pleasing person to whom they 
could be very courteous without any annoyance. So 
that Edith, under the auspices of her aunt, found 
herself at once in circles which otherwise she might 

483 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

not easily have entered, but which her beauty, grace, 
and experience of the most refined society of the con- 
tinent qualified her to shine in. One evening they 
met the Marquess of Beaumanoir, their friend of 
Rome and Paris, and an admirer of Edith, who from 
that time was seldom from their side. His mother, 
the Duchess, immediately called both on the Mill- 
banks and the Wallingers ; glad, not only to please 
her son, but to express that consideration for Mr. 
Millbank which the Duke always wished to show. 
It was however of no use : nothing would induce 
Mr. Millbank ever to enter what he called aristocratic 
society. He liked the House of Commons ; never 
paired off ; never missed a moment of it ; worked at 
committees all the morning, listened attentively to 
debates all the night ; always dined at Bellamy's when 
there was a house ; and when there was not, liked 
dining at the Goldsmith's Company, the Russia Com- 
pany, great Emigration banquets, and other joint- 
stock festivities. That was his idea of rational 
society ; business and pleasure combined ; a good 
dinner, and good speeches afterwards. 

Edith was aware that Coningsby had returned to 
England, for her brother had heard from him on his 
arrival ; but Oswald had not heard since. A season 
in London only represented in the mind of Edith the 
chance, perhaps the certainty, of meeting Coningsby , 
again ; of communing together over the catastrophe 
of last summer ; of soothing and solacing each other's 
unhappiness, and perhaps, with the sanguine imagina- 
tion of youth foreseeing a more felicitous future. She 
had been nearly a fortnight in town, and though 
moving frequently in the same circles as Coningsby, 
they had not yet met. It was one of those results 
which could rarely occur ; but even chance enters too 

484 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

frequently in the league against lovers. The invita- 
tion to the assembly at House was therefore 

peculiarly gratifying to Edith, since she could scarcely 
doubt that if Coningsby were in town, which her 
casual inquiries of Lord Beaumanoir induced her to 
believe was the case, that he would be present. Never 
therefore had she repaired to an assembly with such 
fluttering spirit : and yet there was a fascinating 
anxiety about it that bewilders the young heart. 

In vain Edith surveyed the rooms to catch the 
form of that being, whom for a moment she had 
never ceased to cherish and muse over. He was not 
there ; and at the very moment when disappointed 
and mortified, she most required solace, she learned 
from Mr. Melton that Lady Theresa Sydney, whom 
she chanced to admire, was going to be married, and 
1 to Mr. Coningsby. 

What a revelation ! His silence, perhaps his shun- 
"j ning, of her were no longer inexplicable. What a 
i return for all her romantic devotion in her sad soli- 
j tude at Hellingsley! Was this the end of their 
I twilight rambles, and the sweet pathos of their 
i mutual loves ! There seemed to be no truth in man, 
I no joy in life! All the feelings that she had so 
I generously lavished, all returned upon herself. She 
I could have burst into a passion of tears and buried 
; herself in a cloister. 

Instead of that, civilisation made her listen with a 
serene though tortured countenance ; but as soon as 
it was in her power, pleading a head-ache to Lady 
Wallinger, she effected, or thought she had effected 
her escape from a scene which harrowed her heart. 

As for Coningsby, he passed a sleepless night; 
agitated by the unexpected presence of Edith and 
distracted by the manner in which she had received 

485 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

him. To say that her appearance had revived all his 
passionate affection for her would convey an unjust 
impression of the nature of his feelings. His affec- 
tion had never for a moment swerved ; it was pro- 
found and firm. But unquestionably this sudden 
vision had brought in startling and more vivid 
colours before him the relations that subsisted between 
them. There was the being whom he loved and who 
loved him ; and whatever were the barriers which 
the circumstances of life placed against their union, 
they were partakers of the solemn sacrament of an 
unpolluted heart. 

Coningsby as we have mentioned had signified his 
return to England to Oswald : he had hitherto omitted 
to write again ; not because his spirit faultered, but 
he was wearied of whispering hope without founda- 
tion, and mourning over his chagrined fortunes. 
Once more in England ; once more placed in com- 
munication with his grandfather he felt with increased 
conviction the difi&culties which surrounded him. 
The society of Lady Everingham and her sister y/ho 
had been at the same time her visitor, had been i 
relaxation, and a beneficial one to a mind suffering 
too much from the tension of one idea. But Con- 
ingsby had treated the matrimonial project of his gay- 
minded hostess with the courteous levity in which he 
believed it had at first half originated. He admired 
and liked Lady Theresa ; but there was a reason why 
he could not marry her, even had his own heart not 
been absorbed by one of those passions from which 
men of deep and earnest character never emancipate 
themselves. 

After musing and meditating again and again ov( 
everything that had occurred, Coningsby fell aslee] 
when the morning had far advanced, resolved to rise 

486 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 



when a little refreshed and find out Lady Wallinger, 
who, he felt sure, would receive him with kindness. 

Yet it was fated that this step should not be taken, 
for while he was at breakfast, his servant brought him 
a letter from Monmouth House, apprising him that 
his grandfather wished to see him as soon as possible 
on urgent business. 

CHAPTER III 

Lord Monmouth was sitting in the same dressing- 
room in which he was first introduced to the reader ; 
on the table were several packets of papers that were 
open and in course of reference ; and he dictated his 
observations to Monsieur Villebecque who was writ- 
fj ing at his left hand. 

I Thus were they occupied, when Coningsby was 
* ushered into the room. 

i ' You see, Harry,' said Lord Monmouth, ' that I 
! am much occupied to-day, yet the business on which 
; I wish to communicate with you is so pressing that it 
I could not be postponed.' He made a sign to Ville- 
I becque, and his secretary instantly retired. 

' I was right in pressing your return to England,' 
I continued Lord Monmouth to his grandson, a little 
I anxious as to the impending communication which he 
! could not in any way anticipate. * These are not 
i times when young men should be out of sight. Your 
public career will commence immediately. The 
Government have resolved on a dissolution. My 
information is from the highest quarter. You may 
be astonished, but it is a fact. They are going to 
dissolve their own House of Commons. Notwith- 
standing this and the Queen's name, we can beat 
them ; but the race requires the finest jockeying. 

487 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

We can't give a point. Tadpole has been here to me 
about Darlford ; he came specially with a message, I 
may say an appeal, from one to whom I can refuse 
nothing ; the Government count on the seat, though 
with the new Registration 'tis nearly a tie. If we 
had a good candidate we could win. But Rigby 
won't do. He is too much of the old clique ; used 
up ; a hack ; besides a beaten horse. We are assured 
the name of Coningsby would be a host ; there is a 
considerable section who support the present fellow, 
who will not vote against a Coningsby. They have 
thought of you as the fit person, and I have ap- 
proved of the suggestion. You will therefore be the 
candidate for Darlford with my entire sanction and 
support, and I have no doubt you will be successful. 
You may be sure I shall spare nothing ; and it will be 
very gratifying to me after being robbed of all our 
boroughs, that the only Coningsby who cares to enter 
Parliament, should nevertheless be able to do so as 
early as I could fairly desire.' 

Coningsby the rival of Mr. Millbank on the hust- 
ings of Darlford ! Vanquished or victorious, equally 
a catastrophe ! The fierce passions, the gross insults, 
the hot blood and the cool lies, the ruffianism and the 
ribaldry, perhaps the domestic discomfiture and mor- 
tification, which he was about to be the means of 
bringing on the roof he loved best in the world, 
occurred to him with anguish. The countenance of 
Edith haughty and mournful as last night rose to him 
again. He saw her canvassing for her father and 
against him. Madness! And for what was he to 
make this terrible and costly sacrifice.? For his 
ambition.-^ Not even for that Divinity or Daemon 
for which we all immolate so much! Mighty ambi- 
tion forsooth to succeed to the Rigbys! To enter 

488 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

the House of Commons a slave and a tool ; to move 
according to instructions, and to labour for the low 
designs of petty spirits ; without even the consola- 
tion of being a dupe. What sympathy could there 
exist between Coningsby and the ' great Conservative 
party,' that for ten years in an age of revolution had 
never promulgated a principle ; whose only intel- 
ligible and consistent policy seemed to be an attempt, 
very grateful of course to the feelings of an English 
Royalist, to revive Irish Puritanism ; who when in 
power in 1835 ^^^ used that power only to evince 
their utter ignorance of Church principles ; and who 
were at this moment, when Coningsby was formally 
solicited to join their ranks, in open insurrection 
against the prerogatives of the English Monarchy. 

' Do you anticipate then an immediate Dissolu- 
tion, sir.'^' inquired Coningsby after a moment's 
pause. 

' We must anticipate it ; though I think it doubt- 
ful. It may be next month ; it may be in the 
autumn ; they may tide over another year as Lord 
Eskdale thinks, and his opinion always weighs with 
me. He is very safe. Tadpole believes they will 
dissolve at once. But whether they dissolve now, or 
in a month's time, or in the autumn, or next year, our 
course is clear. We must declare our intenfions im- 
mediately. We must hoist our flag. Monday next, 
there is a great Conservative dinner at Darlford. 
You must attend it ; that will be the finest oppor- 
tunity in the world for you to announce yourself.' 

' Don't you think, sir,' said Coningsby, ' that such 
an announcement would be rather premature ? It is 
in fact embarking in a contest which may last a year ; 
perhaps more.' 

*What you say is very true,' said Lord Mon- 
489 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

mouth ; ' no doubt it is very troublesome ; very 
disgusting ; any canvassing is. But we must take 
things as we find them. You cannot get into Parlia- 
ment now in the good old gentlemanly way ; and we 
ought to be thankful that this interest has been fos- 
tered for our purpose.' 

Coningsby looked on the carpet, cleared his throat 
as if about to speak, and then gave something like a 
sigh. 

* I think you had better be off the day after to- 
morrow,' said Lord Monmouth. ' I have sent in- 
structions to the steward to do all he can in so short a 
time, for I wish you to entertain the principal people.' 

' You are most kind, you are always most kind to 
me, dear sir,' said Coningsby in a hesitating tone, and 
with an air of great embarrassment ; ' but, in truth, 
I have no wish to enter Parliament.' 

' What.?' said Lord Monmouth. 

' I feel that I am not yet sufficiently prepared for so 
great a responsibility as a seat in the House of Com- 
mons,' said Coningsby. 

'Responsibility!' said Lord Monmouth smiling. 
' What responsibility is there ! How can any one 
have a more agreeable seat! The only person to 
whom you are responsible is your own relation, who 
brings you in. And I don't suppose there can be any 
difference on any point between us. You are cer- 
tainly still young ; but I was younger by nearly two 
years when I first went in ; and I found no difficulty, 
r^ There can be no difficulty. All you have got to do 
/ is to vote with your party. As for speaking, if you 
^ have a talent that way ; take my advice ; don't be in 
a hurry. Learn to know the house ; learn the house 
to know you. If a man be discreet, he cannot enter 
Parliament too soon.' 

490 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 



' It is not exactly that, sir,' said Coningsby. 

' Then what is it, my dear Harry ? You see to- 
day I have much to do ; yet as your business is 
pressing, I would not postpone seeing you an hour. 
1 thought you would have been very much gratified.' 

* You mentioned that I had nothing to do but to 
vote with my party, sir,' replied Coningsby. ' You 
mean of course by that term what is understood by 
the Conservative Party.?' 

' Of course ; our friends.' 

' I am sorry,' said Coningsby, rather pale, but 
speaking with firmness, ' I am sorry that I could not 
support the Conservative party.' 

' By — ' exclaimed Lord Monmouth, starting in 
his chair, ' some woman has got hold of him, and 
made him a Whig.' 

' No, my dear grandfather,' said Coningsby, 
scarcely able to repress a smile, serious as the inter- 
view was becoming, ' nothing of the kind, I assure 
you. No person can be more Anti-Whig.' 

' I don't know what you are driving at, sir,' said 
Lord Monmouth, in a hard, dry tone. 

' I wish to be frank, sir,' said Coningsby, ' and am 
very sensible of your goodness in permitting me to 
speak to you on the subject. What I mean to say 
is, that I have for a long time looked upon the Con- 
servative party as a body who have betrayed their 
trust ; more from ignorance I admit than from 
design ; yet clearly a body of individuals totally un- 
equal to the exigencies of the epoch ; and indeed 
unconscious of its real character.' 

'You mean giving up those Irish corporations.?' 
said Lord Monmouth. ' Well, between ourselves, I 
am quite of the same opinion. But we must mount 
higher; we must go to — 28 for the real mischief. 

491 






CONINGSBY Book VIII 

But what is the use of lamenting the past ? Peel is 
the only man ; suited to the times and all that, — at 
least we must say so, and try to believe so ; we can't 
go back. And it is our own fault that we have 
let the chief power out of the hands of our own 
order. It was never thought of in the time of your 
great-grandfather, sir. And if a Commoner were for 
a season permitted to be the nominal Premier to do 
the detail, there was always a secret Committee of 
great 1688 Nobles to give him his instructions.' 

' I should be very sorry to see secret Committees 
of great 1688 Nobles again,' said Coningsby. 

' Then what the devil do you want to see.f^' said 
Lord Monmouth. 

' Political Faith,' said Coningvsby, * instead of 
Political Infidelity.' 

'Hem!' said Lord Monmouth. 

* Before I support Conservative principles,' con- 
tinued Coningsby, ' I merely wish to be informed 
what those principles aim to conserve. It would not 
appear to be the Prerogative of the Crown, since the 
principal portion of a Conservative oration now is an 
invective against a late royal act which they describe 
as a Bed-chamber plot. Is it the Church which they' 
wish to conserve ? What is a threatened Appropria-i 
tion Clause against an actual Church Commission in^ 
the hands or Parliamentary Laymen ? Could tl 
Long Parliament have done worse .'^ Well then, 
it's neither the Crown nor the Church whose rights 
and privileges this Conservative party propose tl 
vindicate, is it your House, the House of Lordf 
whose powers they are prepared to uphold ? Is it n< 
notorious that the very man whom you have elect< 
as your leader in that House, declares among 
Conservative adherents, that henceforth the vei 

49^ 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

Assembly that used to furnish those Committees of 
great Revolution Nobles that you mention, is to 
initiate nothing ; and without a struggle is to subside 
into that undisturbed repose which resembles the Im- 
perial tranquillity that secured the frontiers by paying 
tribute.' 

* All this is vastly fine,' said Lord Monmouth ; 
' but I see no means by which I can attain my object 
but by supporting Peel. After all, what is the end 
of all parties and all politics ? To gain your object. 
I want to turn our coronet into a Ducal one, and to 
get your grandmother's barony called out of abeyance 
in your favour. It is impossible that Peel can refuse 
me. I have already purchased an ample estate with 
the view of entailing it on you and your issue. You 
will make a considerable alliance ; you may marry if 
you please Lady Theresa Sydney. I hear the report 
with pleasure. Count on my at once entering into 
any arrangement conducive to your happiness.' 

' My dear grandfather, you have ever been to me 
only too kind and generous.' 

' To whom should I be kind but to you ; my own 
blood that has never crossed me, and of whom I have 
reason to be proud. Yes, Harry, it gratifies me to 
hear you admired and learn your success. All I want 
now is to see you in Parliament. A man 
should be in Parliament early. There is a sort 
of stiffness about every man, no matter what 
may be his talents, who enters Parliament late in life ; 
and now fortunately the occasion offers. You will 
go down on Friday ; feed the notabilities well ; 
speak out ; praise Peel ; abuse O'Connell and the 
ladies of the Bed-chamber ; anathematise all wav- 
erers ; say a good deal about Ireland ; stick to the 
Irish Registration Bill, that's a good card ; and above 

493 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

all, my dear Harry, don't spare that fellow Millbank. 
Remember in turning him out you not only gain a 
vote for the Conservative Cause and our coronet, but 
you crush my foe. Spare nothing for that object ; I 
count on you, boy.' 

* I should grieve to be backward in anything that 
concerned your interest or your honour, sir,' said 
Coningsby with an air of great embarrassment. 

* I am sure you would, I am sure you would,' 
said Lord Monmouth, in a tone of some kind- 
ness. 

' And I feel at this moment,' continued Coningsby, 
* that there is no personal sacrifice which I am not 
prepared to make for them, except one. My inter- 
ests, my affections, they should not be placed in the 
balance, if yours, sir, were at stake, though there are 
circumstances which might involve me in a position 
of as much mental distress as a man could well en- 
dure ; but I claim for my convictions, my dear 
grandfather, a generous tolerance.' 

' I can't follow you, sir,' said Lord Monmouth 
again in his hard tone. ' Our interests are insepar- 
able, and therefore there can never be any sacrifice 
of conduct on your part. What you mean by sacri- 
fice of affections I don't comprehend ; but as for your 
opinions, you have no business to have any other 
than those I uphold. You are too young to form 
opinions.' 

'I am sure I wish to express them with no unbecom- 
ing confidence ;' replied Coningsby ; * I have never in- 
truded them on your ear before ; but this being an 
occasion, when you yourself said, sir, I was about 
to commence my public career, I confess I thought 
it was my duty to be frank ; I would not entail on 
myself long years of mortification by one of those 

494 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

ill-considered entrances into political life which so 
many public men have cause to deplore.' 

* You go with your family, sir, like a gentleman ; 
you are not to consider your opinions like a philo- 
sopher or a political adventurer.' 

' Yes, sir,' said Coningsby with animation, ' but 
men going with their families, like gentlemen, and 
losing sight of every principle on which the society of 
this country ought to be established, produced the 
Reform Bill.' 

* D the Reform Bill ;' said Lord Monmouth, 

' if the Duke had not quarrelled with Lord Grey on a 
Coal Committee, we should never have had the Re- 
form Bill. And Grey would have gone to Ireland.' 

' You are in as great peril now as you were in 
1830,' said Coningsby. 

' No, no, no ;' said Lord Monmouth, ' the Tory 
party is organized now ; they will not catch us nap- 
ping again ; these Conservative Associations have 
done the business.' 

'But what are they organized for.^^' said Con- 
ingsby. ' At the best to turn out the Whigs. And 
when you have turned out the Whigs, what then.f* 
You may get your Ducal Coronet, sir. But a Duke 
now is not as great a man as a Baron was but a cen- 
tury back. We cannot struggle against the irre- 
sistible stream of circumstances. Power has left our 
order ; this is not an age for fa9titious aristocracy. 
As for my grandmother's barony, I should look upon 
the termination of its abeyance in my favour, as the 
act of my political extinction. What we want, sir, 
is not to fashion new Dukes and furbish up old 
Baronies ; but to establish great principles which may 
maintain the realm and secure the happiness of the 
People. Let me see Authority once more honoured ; 

495 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

I a solemn Reverence again the habit of our lives ; let 
V-me see Property acknowledging as in the old days of 
.liaith, that Labour is his twin brother, and that the 
essence of all tenure is the performance of duty ; let 
results such as these be brought about, and let me 
participate, however feebly, in the great fulfilment ; 
and public life then indeed becomes a noble career, 
and a seat in Parliament an enviable distinction.' 

* I tell you what it is, Harry,' said Lord Mon- 
mouth, very drily, * members of this farnily may 
think as they like, but they must act as I please. 
You must go down on Friday to Darlford and declare 
yourself a candidate for the town, or I shall re- 
consider our mutual positions. I would say, you 
must go to-morrow ; but it is but courteous to 
Rigby to give him a previous intimation of your 
movement. And that cannot be done to-day. 1 
sent for Rigby this morning on other business which 
now occupies me ; and find he is out of town. He 
will return to-morrow ; and will be here at three 
o'clock, when you can meet him. You will meet 
him I doubt not like a man of sense,' added Lo^^i 
Monmouth, looking at Coningsby with a glance su^f 
as he had never before encountered, * who is not pre- 
pared to sacrifice all the objects of life, for the pursuit 
of some fantastical puerilities.' 

His Lordship rang a bell on his table for Ville- 
becque, and to prevent any further conversation, 
resumed his papers. 

CHAPTER IV 

It would have been diflBcult for any person, uncon- | 
scious of crime, to have felt more dejected than Con- '■ 
ingsby, when he rode out of the courtyard of Mon- 

496 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

mouth House. The love of Edith would have con- 
soled him for the destruction of his prosperity ; the 
proud fulfilment of his ambition might in time have 
proved some compensation for his crushed affections ; 
but his present position seemed to offer no single 
source of solace. There came over him that irre- 
sistible conviction, that is at times the dark doom of 
all of us, that the bright period of our life is past ; 
that a future awaits us only of anxiety, failure, morti- 
fication, despair ; that none of our resplendent visions 
can be ever realized, and that we add but one more 
victim to the long and dreary catalogue of baffled 
aspirations. 

Nor could he indeed by any combination see the 
means to extricate himself from the perils that were 
encompassing him. There was something about his 
grandfather that defied persuasion. Prone as eloquent 
youth generally is to believe in the resistless power 
of its appeals, Coningsby despaired at once of ever 
moving Lord Monmouth. There had been a cal- 
lous dryness in his manner, an unswerving purpose 
in his spirit, that at once baffled all attempts at influ- 
ence. Nor could Coningsby forget the glance he 
i received when he quitted the room. There was no 
i| possibility of mistaking it ; it said at once, without 
i', periphrasis, ' Cross my purpose, and I will crush 
' you.' 

This was the moment when the sympathy, if not 
^ the councils, of friendship might have been grateful. 
A clever woman might have afforded even more than 
sympathy ; some happy device that might have even 
released him from the mesh in which he was involved. 
And once Coningsby had turned his horse's head to 
Park Lane to call on Lady Everingham. But surely 
if there were a sacred secret in the world, it was the 



497 



t 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

one which subsisted between himself and Edith. 
No, that must never be violated. Then there was 
Lady Wallinger ; he could at least speak with free- 
dom to her. He resolved to tell her all. He looked 
in for a moment at a Club to take up the Court 
Guide and find her direction. A few men were 
standing in a bow window. He heard Mr. Cassilis 
say, 

' So Beau they say is booked at last ; the new 
beauty, have you heard .^^^ 

' I saw him very sweet on her last night,' rejoined 
his companion. ' Has she any tin.^^' 

* Deuced deal they say,' replied Mr. Cassilis. 
' The father's a Cotton Lord, and they all have loads 
of tin, you know. Nothing like them now.' 

' He is in Parliament, is not he ?^ 

' 'Gad I believe he is,' said Mr. Cassilis, ' I never 
know who is in Parliament in these days. I remem- 
ber when there were only ten men in the House of 
Commons who were not either members of Brookes' 
or this place. Everything is so deuced changed.' 

* I hear 'tis an old affair of Beau,' said another 
gentleman. * It was all done a year ago at Rome or 
Paris.' 

' They say she refused him then,' said Mr. 
Cassilis. , 

* Well, that is tolerably cool for a manufacturer's, 
daughter,' said his friend, ' what next.^" 

* I wonder how the Duke likes it,' said Mr. : 
Cassilis. 

' Or the Duchess.^' added one of his friends. 

* Or the Everinghams.'^' added the other. 
' The Duke will be deuced glad to see Beau settled 

I take it,' said Mr. Cassilis. 

* A good deal depends on the tin,' said his friend. 

498 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

Coningsby threw down the Court Guide with a 
sinking heart. In spite of every insuperable difficulty, 
hitherto the end and object of all his aspirations and 
all his exploits, sometimes even almost unconsciously 
to himself, was to be Edith. It was over. The 
strange manner of last night was fatally explained. 
The heart that once had been his was now anothers. 
To the man who still loves there is in that conviction 
the most profound and desolate sorrow of which our 
nature is capable. All the recollections of the past, 
all the once cherished prospects of the future, blend 
into one bewildering anguish. Coningsby quitted 
the Club, and mounting his horse, rode rapidly out 
of town, almost unconscious of his direction. He 
found himself at length in a green lane near Willes- 
den, silent and undisturbed ; he pulled up his horse 
and he summoned all his mind to the contemplation 
of his prospects. 

Edith was lost. Now, should he return to his 
grandfather, accept his mission, and go down to Darl- 
ford on Friday? Favour and fortune, power, pros- 
perity, rank, distinction would be the consequence of 
this step. Might not he add even vengeance .f' 
Was there to be no term to his endurance .f^ Might 
not he teach this proud prejudiced manufacturer, 
with all his virulence and despotic caprices, a memor- 
able lesson.? And his daughter too, this betrothed 
after all of a young noble, with her flush futurity of 
splendour and enjoyment, was she to hear of him 
only, if indeed she heard of him at all, as of one 
toiling or trifling in the humbler positions of exist- 
ence ; and wonder with a blush that he ever could 
have been the hero of her romantic girlhood ! What 
degradation in the idea! His cheek burnt at the 
possibility of such ignominy] 

499 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

It was a conjuncture in his life that required de- 
cision. He thought of his companions who looked 
up to him with such ardent anticipations of his fame, 
of delight in his career, and confidence in his leading ; 
were all these high and fond fancies to be baulked? 
On the very threshold of life was he to blunder? 
'Tis the first step that leads to all ; and his was to be 
a wilful error. He remembered his first visit to his 
grandfather, and the delight of his friends at Eton 
at his report on his return. After eight years of 
initiation, was he to lose that favour then so highly 
prized, when the results which they had so long 
counted on, were on the very eve of accomplishment. 
Parliament and riches, and rank, and power — these 
were facts, realities, substances that none could mis- 
take. Was he to sacrifice them for speculations, 
theories, shadows, perhaps the vapours of a green and 
conceited brain ? No, by Heaven no ; he was like 
Caesar by the starry river's side, watching the image 
of the planets on its fatal waters. The die was cast. 

The sun set ; the twilight spell fell upon his soul ; 
the exultation of his spirit died away. Beautiful 
thoughts, full of sweetness and tranquillity and con- 
solation, came clustering round his heart like seraphs. 
He thought of Edith in her hours of fondness ; he 
thought of the pure and solemn moments when to 
mingle his name with the heroes of humanity was his 
aspiration, and to achieve immortal fame the inspir- 
ing purpose of his life. What were the tawdry 
accidents of vulgar ambition to him ! No domestic 
despot could deprive him of his intellect, his know- 
ledge, the sustaining power of an unpolluted con- 
science. If he possessed the intelligence in which 
he had confidence, the world would recognise his voice, 
even if not placed upon a pedestal. If the principles 

500 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

of his philosophy were true, the great heart of the 
nation would respond to their expression. Con- 
ingsby felt at this moment a profound conviction 
which never again deserted him, that the conduct 
which would violate the affections of the heart or 
the dictates of the conscience, however it may lead 
to immediate success, is a fatal error. Conscious 
that he was perhaps verging on some painful vicissi- 
tudes of his life, he devoted himself to a love that 
seemed hopeless, and to a fame that was perhaps a 
dream. 

It was under the influence of these solemn resolu- 
tions, that he wrote on his return home, a letter to 
Lord Monmouth, in which he expressed all that effec- 
tion, which he really felt for his grandfather, and all 
the pangs which it cost him to adhere to the conclu- 
sions he had already announced. In terms of ten- 
derness and even humility he declined to become a 
candidate for Darlford, or even to enter Parliament 
except as the master of his own conduct. 

CHAPTER V 

Lady Monmouth was reclining on a sofa in that 
beautiful boudoir which had been fitted up under 
the superintendance of Mr. Rigby, but as he then 
believed for the Princess Colonna. The walls were 
hung with amber satin, painted by Laroche with such 
subjects as might be expected from his brilliant and 
picturesque pencil. Fair forms, heroes and heroines 
in dazzling costume, the offspring of chivalry merg- 
ing into what is commonly styled civilization, moved 
in graceful or fantastic groups amid palaces and gar- 
dens. The ceiling carved in the deep honeycomb 
fashion of the Saracens was richly gilt and picked 

501 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

out in violet. Upon a violet carpet of velvet was 
represented the marriage of Cupid and Psyche. 

It was about two hours after Coningsby had 
quitted Monmouth House, and Flora came in, sent 
for by Lady Monmouth as was her custom to read 
to her as she was employed with some light work. 

' 'Tis a new book of Sue,' said Lucretia. ' They 
say it is good.' 

Flora seated by her side read for about a quarter 
of an hour. Reading was an. accomplishment which 
distinguished Flora ; but to-day her voice faultered, 
her expression was uncertain ; she seemed but very 
imperfectly to comprehend her page. More than 
once Lady Monmouth looked round at her with an 
inquisitive glance. Suddenly Flora stopped and 
burst into tears. 

' Oh ! madam,' she at last exclaimed, * if yol 
would but speak to Mr. Coningsby all might hi 
right!' 

'What is this.^' said Lady Monmouth, turning 
quickly on the sofa, then collecting herself in an in- 
stant she continued with less abruptness and with 
more sauvity than usual, * tell me. Flora, what is it ; 
what is the matter.?' 

* My Lord,' sobbed Flora, ' has quarrelled with 
Mr. Coningsby.' 

' An expression of eager interest came over the 
countenance of Lucretia. "^ 

* Why have they quarrelled ?^ 

* I do not know they have quarrelled ; it is 
perhaps a right term ; but my Lord is very anj 
with Mr. Coningsby.' 

* Not very angry I should think, Flora ; and ab6^ 
what .?' 

* Oh ! very angry, madam,' said Flora, shak- 

502 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

ing her head mournfully, ' my Lord told M. Ville- 
becque that perhaps Mr. Coningsby would never 
enter the house again.' 

' Was It to-day ! ' asked Lucretia. 

' This morning ; Mr. Coningsby has only left 
this hour or two. He will not do what my Lord 
wishes — about some seat in the Chamber. I do not 
know exactly what it is ; but my Lord is in one of 
his moods of terror ; my father is frightened even 
to go into his room, when he is so.' 

'Has Mr. Rigby been here to-day .'^' asked 
Lucretia. 

* Mr. Rigby is not in town. My father went for 
Mr. Rigby this morning before Mr. Coningsby came, 
and he found that Mr. Rigby was not in town. That 
is why I know it.' 

Lady Monmouth rose from her sofa and walked 
once or twice up and down the room. Then turning 
to Flora, she said, ' Go away now ; the book is 
stupid ; it does not amuse me. Stop : find out all 
you can for me about the quarrel, before I speak to 
Mr. Coningsby.' 

Flora quitted the room. Lucretia remained for 
some time in meditation : then she wrote a few lines 
which she despatched at once to Mr. Rigby. 

CHAPTER VI 

What a great man was the Right Honourable 
Nicholas Rigby! Here was one of the first peers 
of England, and one of the finest ladies in London, 
both waiting with equal anxiety his return to town ; 
and unable to transact two affairs of vast importance 
yet wholly unconnected, without his interposition! 
What was the secret of the influence of this man, 

503 



CONINGSBY Book VII 

confided in by every body, trusted by none? Hi{ 
councils were not deep, his expedients were not felici- 
tous ; he had no feeling, and he could create no sym- 
pathy. It is that in most of the transactions of life 
there is some portion which no one cares to accom- 
plish, and which everybody wishes to be achieved. 
This was always the portion of Mr. Rigby. In the 
eye of the world he had constantly the appearance of 
being mixed up with high dealings, and negotiations 
and arrangements of fine management ; where — aj 
in truth, notwithstanding his splendid livery and the 
airs he gave himself in the servants' hall, his real 
business in life had ever been — to do the dirty work. 

Mr. Rigby had been shut up much at his villa ol 
late. He was concocting, you could not term i 
composing, an article, a ' very slashing article,' whicl 
was to prove that the Penny postage must be th( 
destruction of the Aristocracy. It was a grand sub- 
ject treated in his highest style. His parallel por- 
traits of Rowland Hill, the Conqueror of Almarez, 
and Rowland Hill the devisor of the cheap postagCj 
was enormously fine. It was full of passages in 
italics ; little words in great capitals ; and almosi 
drew tears. The statistical details also were high! 
interesting and novel. Several of the old postmeri 
both twopenny and general, who had been in oflEici 
with himself, and who were inspired with an equaF 
zeal against that spirit of Reform of which they had 
alike been victims, supplied him with information 
which nothing but a breach of ministerial duty could , 
have furnished. The prophetic peroration as to the 
irresistible progress of Democracy was almost 
powerful as one of Rigby's speeches on Aldborough 
or Amersham. There never was a fellow for giving 
a good hearty kick to the people like Rigby. Hini- 

504 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

self sprung from the dregs of the populace, this was 
disinterested. What could be more patriotic and 
magnanimous than his Jeremiads over the fall of the 
Montmorencis and the Crillons, or the possible catas- 
trophe of the Percys and the Manners! The truth 
of all this hullaballoo was that Rigby had a sly pen- 
sion which, by an inevitable association of ideas, he 
always connected with the maintenance of an Aris- 
tocracy. All his rigmarole dissertations on the 
French Revolution were impelled by this secret influ- 
ence ; and when he wailed over ' la guerre aux cha- 
teaux,' and moaned like a mandrake over Notting- 
ham Castle in flames, the rogue had an eye all the 
while to Quarter Day ! 

Arriving in town, the day after Coningsby's inter- 
view with his grandfather, Mr. Rigby found a sum- 
mons to Monmouth House waiting him, and an 
urgent note from Lucretia begging that he would 
permit nothing to prevent him seeing her for a few 
minutes before he called on the Marquess. 

Lucretia, acting on the unconscious intimation of 
Flora, had in the course of four-and-twenty hours 
obtained pretty ample and accurate details of the 
cause of contention between Coningsby and her hus- 
band. She could inform Mr. Rigby not only that 
Lord Monmouth was highly incensed against his 
grandson ; but that the cause of their misunder- 
standing arose about a seat in the House of Com- 
mons, and that seat too the one which Rigby had 
long appropriated to himself, and over whose regis- 
tration he had watched with such afl^ectionate solici- 
tude. Lady Monmouth arranged this information 
like a first-rate artist ; and gave it a grouping and a 
colour, which produced the liveliest efl^ect upon her 
confederate. The countenance of Rigby was almost 

505 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

ghastly as he received the intelligence ; a grin, 
half of malice, half of terror, played over his 
features. 

' I told you to beware of him long ago,' said Lady 
Monmouth. * He is, he has ever been, in the way 
of both of us.' 

' He is in my power,' said Rigby ; ' we can crush 
him.' 

'How.?' 

' He is in love with the daughter of Millbank, the 
man who bought Hellingsley.' 

' Hah ! ' exclaimed Lady Monmouth in a pro- 
longed tone. 

' He was at Coningsby all last summer hanging 
about her. I found the younger Millbank quite 
domiciliated at the Castle ; a fact of itself which, if 
known to Lord Monmouth, would ensure the lad's 
annihilation.' 

' And you kept this fine news for a winter cam- 
paign, my good Mr. Rigby,' said Lady Monmouth 
with a subtile smile. ' It was a weapon of service ; I 
give you my compliments.' 

' The time is not always ripe,' said Mr. Rigby. 

* But it is now most mature ; let us not conceal it 
from ourselves, that since his first visit to Coningsby, 
we have neither of us really been in the same posi- 
tion which we then occupied, or believed we should 
occupy. My Lord, though you would scarcely be- 
lieve it, has a weakness for this boy ; and though I 
by my marriage, and you by your zealous ability, 
have apparently secured a permanent hold upon his 
habits, I have never doubted that when the crisis 
comes we shall find that the golden fruit is plucked 
by one who has not watched the garden. You take 
me? There is no reason why we two should clash 

506 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

together ; we can both of us find what we want ; and 
most securely if we work in company.' 

* I trust my devotion to you has never been 
doubted, dear Madam.' 

' Nor to yourself, dear Mr. Rigby. Go now ; the 
game is before you. Rid me of this Conin^sby, and 
I shall secure you all that you want. Doubt not me. 
There is no reason. I want a firm ally. There 
must be two.' 

' It shall be done,' said Rigby, ' it must be 
done. If once the notion gets wind that one 
of the Castle family may perchance stand for 
Darlford, all the present combinations will be 
disorganized. It must be done at once ; I know 
that the government will dissolve.' 

' So I hear for certain,' said Lucretia. ' Be sure 
there is no time to lose. What does he want with 
you to-day?' 

' I know not ; there are so many things.' 

' To be sure : and yet I cannot doubt he will speak 
qfijhis quarrel. Let not the occasion be lost. What- 
ever his mood, the subject may be introduced. If 
good, you will guide him more easily ; if dark, the 
love for the Hellingsley girl, the fact of the brother 
being in his Castle, drinking his wine, riding his 
horses, ordering about his servants, you will omit no 
details — a Millbank quite at home at Coningsby 
will lash him to madness! 'Tis quite ripe. Not a 
word that you have seen me. Go, go, or he may hear 
that you have arrived. I shall be at home all the 
morning. It will be but gallant, that you should 
pay me a little visit when you have transacted your 
business. You understand — au revoir!' 

Lady Monmouth took up again her French novel ; 
but her eye soon glanced over the page, unattached 

507 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

by its contents. Her own existence was too interest- 
ing to find any excitement in fiction. It was nearly 
three years since her marriage ; that great step which 
she ever had a conviction was to lead to results still 
greater. Of late she had often been filled with a pre- 
sentiment that they were near at hand ; never more 
so than on this day. Irresistible was the current of 
associations that led her to meditate on freedom, 
wealth, power, on a career which should at the same 
time dazzle the imagination and gratify her heart. 
Notwithstanding the gossip of Paris, founded on no 
authentic knowledge of her husband's character or 
information, based on the hap-hazard observations 
of the floating multitude, Lucretia herself had no 
reason to fear that her influence over Lord Mon- 
mouth if exerted was materially diminished. But 
satisfied that he had formed no other tie, with her 
ever the test of her position, she had not thought it 
expedient, and certainly would have found it irksome, 
to maintain that influence by any ostentatious mea ns. 
She knew that Lord Monmouth was capricious, eas^^f 
wearied, soon palled ; and that on men who have ^m 
afl^ections, afi^ection has no hold. Their passions or 
their fancies on the contrary, as it seemed to her, are 
rather stimulated by neglect or indifl^erence, provided 
they are not systematic ; and the circumstance of a 
wife being admired by one, who is not her husband, 
sometimes wonderfully revives the passion or reno- 
vates the respect of him, who should be devoted to 
her. 

The health of Lord Monmouth was the subject 
which never was long absent from the vigilance or 
rneditation of Lucretia. She was well assured that 
his life was no longer secure. She knew that after 
their marriage, he had made a will which secured to 

508 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 



her a very large portion of his great wealth, in case 
of their having no issue, and after the accident at 
Paris all hope in that respect was over. Recently the 
extreme anxiety which Lord Monmouth had evinced 
about terminating the abeyance of the barony to 
which his first wife was a co-heiress in favour of his 
grandson, had alarmed Lucretia. To establish in the 
land another branch of the House of Coningsby was 
evidently the last excitement of Lord Monmouth, 
and perhaps a permanent one. If the idea were once 
accepted, notwithstanding the limit to its endowment 
which Lord Monmouth might, at the first start, con- 
template, Lucretia had sufficiently studied his tem- 
perament to be convinced that all his energies and all 
his resources would ultimately be devoted to its prac- 
tical fulfilment. Her original prejudice against Con- 
ingsby and jealousy of his influence had therefore of 
late been considerably aggravated ; and the intellig- 
ence that for the first time there was a misunderstand- 
ing between Coningsby and her husband filled 
her with excitement and hope. She knew her 
Lord well enough to feel assured that the cause for 
the displeasure in the present instance could not be a 
light one, she resolved instantly to labour that it 
should not be transient ; and it so happened that she 
had applied for aid in this endeavour to the very 
individual in whose power it rested to accomplish all 
her desire while in doing so he felt at the same time 
he was defending his own position and advancing his 
own interests. 

Lady Monmouth was now awaiting with some ex- 
citement the return of Mr. Rigby. His interview 
with his patron was of unusual length. An hour, 
and more than an hour, had elapsed. Lady Mon- 
mouth again threw aside the book which more than 

509 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

once she had discarded. She paced the room ; rest- 
less rather than disquieted. She had complete con- 
fidence in Rigby's ability for the occasion ; and with 
her knowledge of Lord Monmouth's character, she 
could not contemplate the possibility of failure, if the 
circumstances were adroitly introduced to his con- 
sideration. Still time stole on ; the harassing and 
exhausting process of suspense was acting on her ner- 
vous system. She began to think that Rigby had 
not found the occasion favourable for the catastrophe ; 
that Lord Monmouth from apprehension of disturb- 
ing Rigby and entailing explanations on himself had 
avoided the necessary communication ; that her skil- 
ful combination for the moment had missed. Two 
hours had now elapsed, and Lucretia, in a state of 
considerable irritation was about to inquire whether 
Mr. Rigby were with his Lordship, when the door 
of her boudoir opened, and that gentleman appearej 

' How long you have been,' exclaimed Lady Moj 
mouth. * Now sit down and tell me what has past. 

Lady Monmouth pointed to the seat which Fl( 
had occupied. 

' I thank your Ladyship,' said Mr. Rigby with T 
somewhat grave and yet perplexed expression Q^ 
countenance, and seating himself at some little dis(|H^ 
ance from his companion, ' but I am very well here.' 

There was a pause. Instead of responding to the 
invitation of Lady Monmouth to communicate, with 
his usual readiness and volubility, Mr. Rigby was 
silent, and if it were possible to use such an expres- 
sion with regard to such a gentleman, apparently 
embarrassed. 

* Well,' said Lady Monmouth. ' Does he know 
about the Millbanks.?' 

* Everything,' said Mr. Rigby. 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

'And what did he say?' 

* His Lordship was greatly shocked,' replied Mr. 
Rigby with a pious expression of features. ' Such 
monstrous ingratitude ! As his Lordship very justly 
observed, it is impossible to say what is going on 
under my own roof, or to whom I can trust.' 

' But he made an exception in your favour, I dare 
say, my dear Mr. Rigby,' said Lady Monmouth. 

' Lord Monmouth was pleased to say that I pos- 
sessed his entire confidence,' said Mr. Rigby, ' and 
that he looked to me in his difficulties.' 

' Very sensible of him. And what is to become of 
Mr. Coningsby?' 

' The steps which his Lordship is about to take 
with reference to his establishment generally,' said 
Mr. Rigby, * will allow the connection that at pre- 
sent subsists between that gentleman and his noble 
relative, now that Lord Monmouth's eyes are open 
to his real character, to terminate naturally without 
the necessity of any formal explanation.' 

* But what do you mean by the steps he is going 
to take in his establishment generally.'^' 

'Lord Monmouth thinks he requires change of 
scene.' 

' Oh ! is he going to drag me abroad again,' ex- 
claimed Lady Monmouth with great impatience. 

'Why not exactly,' said Mr. Rigby rather de- 
murely. 

' I hope he is not going again to that dreadful 
Castle in Lancashire.' 

' Lord Monmouth was thinking that as you were 
tired of Paris, you might find some of the German 
Baths agreeable.' 

' Why there is nothing that Lord Monmouth dis- 
likes so much as a German bathing place!' 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

* Exactly,' said Mr. Rigby. 

' Then how capricious in him, v/anting to go to 
them!' 

' He does not want to go to them.' 

* What do you mean, Mr. Rigby,' said Lady Mon- 
mouth in a lower voice, and looking him full in the 
face with a glance seldom bestowed. 

There was a churlish and unusual look about 
Rigby. It was as if malignant, and yet at the same 
time a little frightened, he had screwed himself into 
doggedness. 

* I mean what Lord Monmouth means ; he sug- 
gests that if your Ladyship were to pass the summer 
at Kissingen for example, and a paragraph in the 
Morning Post were to announce that his Lordship 
was about to join you there, all awkwardness would 
be removed ; and no one could for a moment take 
the liberty of supposing, even if his Lordship did not 
ultimately reach you, that anything like a separation 
had occurred.' — 

'A separation!' said Lady Monmouth. 

* Quite amicable,' said Mr. Rigby. ' I would 
never have consented to interfere in the affair, but to 
secure that most desirable point.' 

* I will see Lord Monmouth at once,' said Lucretia 
rising, her natural pallor aggravated into a ghoul- 
like tint. 

* His Lordship has gone out,' said Mr. Rigby 
rather stubbornly. 

* Our conversation, sir, then finishes : I wait his 
return.' She bowed haughtily. 

* His Lordship will never return to Monmouth 
House again.' 

Lucretia sprang from the sofa. 

* Miserable craven!' she exclaimed, 'has the 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

cowardly tyrant fled? And he really thinks that I 
am to be crushed by such an instrument as this! 
Pah ! He may leave Monmouth House, but I shall 
not. Begone, sir.' 

* Still anxious to secure an amicable separation,' 
said Mr. Rigby, * your Ladyship must allow me to 
place the circumstances of the case fairly before your 
excellent judgment. Lord Monmouth has decided 
upon a course ; you know as well as me that he never 
swerves from his resolutions. He has left peremp- 
tory instructions, and he will listen to no appeal. 
He has empowered me to represent to your Lady- 
ship that he wishes in every way to consider your 
convenience. He suggests that everything in short 
should be arranged as if his Lordship were himself 
unhappily no more ; that your Ladyship should at 
once enter into your jointure, which shall be made 
payable quarterly to your order, provided you can 
find it convenient to live upon the continent,' added 
Mr. Rigby with some hesitation. 

'And suppose I cannot .f^' 

' Why then we will leave your Ladyship to the 
assertion of your rights.' 

'We!' 

' I beg your Ladyship's pardon : I speak as a 
friend of the family; the trustee of your marriage 
settlement ; well-known also as Lord Monmouth's 
executor,' said Mr. Rigby, his countenance gradu- 
ally regaining its usual callous confidence, and some 
degree of self-complacency, as he remembered the 
good things which he enumerated. 

' I have decided,' said Lady Monmouth ; ' I will 
assert my rights. Your master has mistaken my 
character and his own position. He shall rue the 
day that he assailed me.' 
2K 513 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

* I should be sorry if there were any violence,' 
said Mr. Rigby, ' especially as everything is left to 
my management and control. An office indeed 
which I only accepted for your mutual advantage. 
I think upon reflection I might put before your Lady- 
ship some considerations which might induce you on 
the whole to be of opinion that it will be better for 
us to draw together in this business, as we have 
hitherto indeed throughout an acquaintance, now of 
some years.' Rigby was resuming all his usual tone 
of brazen familiarity. 

' Your self-confidence exceeds even Lord Mon- 
mouth's estimate of it,' said Lucretia. 

' Now, now, you are unkind. Your Ladyship 
mistakes my position. I am interfering in this busi- 
ness for your sake. I might have refused the office. 
It would have fallen to another, who would have ful- 
filled it without any delicacy and consideration for 
your feelings. View my interposition in that light, 
my dear Lady Monmouth, and circumstances will 
assume altogether a new colour.' 

* I beg that you would quit the house, sir.' 

Mr. Rigby shook his head. ^ I would with plea- 
sure to oblige you, were it in my power, but Lord 
Monmouth has particularly desired that I should take 
up my residence here permanently. The servants 
are now my servants. It is useless to ring the bell. 
For your Ladyship's sake, I wish everything to be 
accomplished with tranquillity, and if possible friend- 
liness and good-feeling. You can have even a week 
for the preparations for your departure if necessary. 
I will take that upon myself. Any carriages too 
that you desire ; your jewels ; at least all those that 
are not at the banker's. The arrangement about 
your jointure, your letters of credit, even your pass- 

514 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

port, I will attend to myself ; only too happy if 
by this painful interference, I have in any way contri- 
buted to soften the annoyance which at the first blush 
you may naturally experience, but which like every- 
thing else, take my word, will wear off.' 

* I shall send for Lord Eskdale,' said Lady Mon- 
mouth, ' he is a gentleman.' 

* I am quite sure,' said Mr. Rigby, ' that Lord 
Eskdale will give you the same advice as myself, if 
he only reads your Ladyship's letters,' he added 
slowly, ' to Prince Trautsmandorff.' 

' My letters!' said Lady Monmouth. 

' Pardon me,' said Rigby, putting his hand in his 
pockets as if to guard some treasure, ' I have no wish 
to revive painful associations ; but I have them ; and 
I must act upon them, if you persist in treating me as 
a foe, who am in reality your best friend, which 
indeed I ought to be, having the honour of acting as 
trustee under your marriage settlement, and having 
known you so many years.' 

' Leave me for the present alone,' said Lady Mon- 
mouth. * Send me my servant if I have one. I 
shall not remain here the week which you mention, 
but quit at once this house, which I wish I had never 
entered. Adieu ! Mr. Rigby, you are now Lord of 
Monmouth House, and yet I cannot help feeling you 
too will be discharged before he dies.' 

Mr. Rigby made Lady Monmouth a bow such 
as became the master of the house, and then with- 
drew. 

CHAPTER VII 

A PARAGRAPH in the Morning Post a few days after 
his interview with his grandfather, announcing that 
Lord and Lady Monmouth had quitted town for the 

515 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 



Baths of Kissingen, startled Coningsby, who called 
the same day at Monmouth House in consequence. 
There he learnt more authentic details of their un- 
expected movements. It appeared that Lady Mon- 
mouth had certainly departed ; and the porter with a 
rather sceptical visage informed Coningsby that Lord 
Monmouth was to follow ; but when he could not 
tell. At present his Lordship was at Brighton, and 
in a few days was about to take possession of a villa 
at Richmond which had for some time been fitting up 
for him under the superintendence of Mr. Rigby, 
who, as Coningsby also learnt, now permanently 
resided at Monmouth House. All this intelligence 
made Coningsby ponder. He was sufficiently ac- 
quainted with the parties concerned to feel assured 
that he had not learnt the whole truth. What had 
really taken place, and what was the real cause of the 
occurrences, were equally mystical to him : all he was 
convinced of was, that some great domestic revolu- 
tion had been suddenly effected. 

Coningsby entertained for his grandfather a sincere 
affection. With the exception of their last unfor- 
tunate interview, he had experienced from Lord 
Monmouth nothing but kindness both in phrase and 
deed. There was also something in Lord Mon- 
mouth, when he pleased it, rather fascinating to 
young men ; and as Coningsby had never occasioned 
him any feelings but pleasurable ones, he was always 
disposed to make himself delightful to his grandson. 
The experience of a consummate man of the world 
advanced in life, detailed without rigidity to youth, 
with frankness and facility, is bewitching. Lord 
Monmouth was never garrulous : he was always 
pithy and could be picturesque. He revealed a char- 
acter in a sentence ; and detected the ruling passion 

5^6 






Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

with the hand of a master. Besides he had seen 
everybody and had done everything ; and though on 
the whole too indolent for conversation, and loving to 
be talked to, these were circumstances which made his 
too rare communications the more precious. 

With these feelings Coningsby resolved the 
moment that he learned that his grandfather was 
established at Richmond to pay him a visit. He was 
informed that Lord Monmouth was at home, and he 
was shown into a drawing-room, where he found two 
French ladies in their bonnets, who he soon discov- 
ered to be actresses. They also had come down to pay 
a visit to his grandfather, and were by no means dis- 
pleased to pass the interval that was to elapse before 
they had that pleasure, in chatting with his grandson. 
Coningsby found them extremely amusing ; with the 
finest spirits in the world, imperturbable good tem- 
per, and an unconscious practical philosophy, that 
defied the devil Care and all his works. And well it 
was, that he found such agreeable companions, for 
time flowed on, and no summons arrived to call him 
to his grandfather's presence, and no herald to an- 
nounce his grandfather's advent. The ladies and 
Coningsby had exhausted badinage ; they had ex- 
amined and criticised all the furniture ; had rifled the 
vases of their prettiest flowers ; and Clotilde who had 
already sung several times, was proposing a duet to 
Ermengarde, when a servant entered, and told the 
ladies that a carriage was in attendance to give them 
an airing, jind after that Lord Monmouth hoped they 
would return and dine with him ; then turning to 
Coningsby he informed him with his Lordship's com- 
pliments, that Lord Monmouth was sorry he was too 
much engaged to see him. 

Nothing was to be done but to put a tolerably good 

517 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

face upon it. * Embrace Lord Monmouth for me,' 
said Coningsby to his fair friends, ' and tell him I 
think it very unkind that he did not ask me to dinner 
with you.' 

Coningsby said this with a gay air, but really with 
a depressed spirit. He felt convinced that his grand- 
father was deeply displeased with him, and as he rode 
away from the villa, he could not resist the strong 
impression that he was destined never to enter it. 
Yet it was decreed otherwise. It so happened that 
the idle message which Coningsby had left for his 
grandfather, and which he never seriously supposed 
for a moment that his late companions would have 
given their host, operated entirely in his favour. 
Whatever were the feelings with respect to Con- 
ingsby at the bottom of Lord Monmouth's heart, he 
was actuated in his refusal to see him not more from 
displeasure, than from an anticipatory horror of some- 
thing like a scene. Even a surrender from Con- 
ingsby without terms, and an offer to declare himself 
a candidate for Darlford, or to do anything else that 
his grandfather wished, would have been disagreeable 
to Lord Monmouth in his present mood. As in 
politics a revolution is often followed by a season of 
torpor, so in the case of Lord Monmouth, the separa- 
tion from his wife, which had for a long period 
occupied his meditation, was succeeded by a vein of 
mental dissipation. He did not wish to be reminded 
by anything or any person that he had still in some 
degree the misfortune of being a responsible member 
of society. He wanted to be surrounded by in- 
dividuals who were above or below the conventional 
interests of what is called " the World." He wanted 
to hear nothing of those painful and embarrassing 
influences which from our contracted experience and 

518 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

want of enlightenment, we magnify into such undue 
importance. For this purpose he wished to have 
about him persons whose knowledge of the cares of 
life concerned only the means of existence ; and whose 
sense of its objects referred only to the sources of 
enjoymxnt ; persons who had not been educated in 
the idolatry of Respectability ; that is to say, of real- 
izing such an amount of what is termed Character by 
a hypocritical deference to the prejudices of the com- 
munity, as may enable them at suitable times, and 
under convenient circumstances and disguises, to 
plunder the Public. This was the Monmouth 
Philosophy. 

With these feelings, Lord Monmouth recoiled at 
this moment from grandsons and relations and ties of 
all kinds. He did not wish to be reminded of his 
identity ; but to swim unmolested and undisturbed 
in his Epicurean dream. V/^hen therefore his fair 
visitors, Clotilde who opened her mouth only to 
breathe roses and diamonds ; and Ermengarde who 
was so good-natured that she sacrificed even her 
lovers to her friends ; saw him merely to exclaim at 
the same moment, and with the same voices of 
thrilling joyousness. 

* Why did not you ask him to dinner ! ' 
And then without waiting for his reply entered 
with that rapidity of elocution which Frenchwomen 
can alone command into the catalogue of his charms 
and accomplishments. Lord Monmouth began to 
regret that he really had not seen Coningsby who it 
appears might have greatly contributed to the 
pleasure of the day. The message which was duly 
given however settled the business. Lord Mon- 
mouth felt that any chance of explanations or even 
allusions to the past was out of the question ; and to 

519 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

defend himself from the accusations of his animated 
guests, he said, 

' Well, he shall come to dine with you next 
time.' 

There is no end to the influence of woman on our 
life. It is at the bottom of everything that happens 
to us. And so it was, that, in spite of all the com- 
binations of Lucretia and Mr. Rigby, and the morti- 
fication and resentment of Lord Monmouth, the 
favourable impression he casually made on a couple of 
French actresses occasioned Coningsby, before a 
month had elapsed since his memorable interview at 
Monmouth House, to receive an invitation again to 
dine with his grandfather. 

The party was very agreeable. Clotilde and 
Ermengarde had wits as sparkling as their eyes. 
There was the manager of the Opera, a great friend 
of Villebecque, and his wife, a very splendid lady 
who had been a prima donna of celebrity, and still 
had a commanding voice for a chamber. A Carlist 
nobleman who lived upon his traditions, and who 
though without a sou could tell of a festival given 
by his family before the revolution which had cost a 
million of frances, and a Neapolitan physician, in 
whom Lord Monmouth had great confidence and who 
himself believed in the Elixir Vitae, made up the 
party with Lucian Gay, Coningsby and Mr. Rigby. 
Our hero remarked that Villebecque on this occasion 
sat at the bottom of the table, but Flora did not 
appear. 

In the meantime, the month which brought about 
this satisfactory, and at one time unexpected, result, 
was fruitful also in other circumstances still more 
interesting. Coningsby and Edith met frequently, if 
to breathe the same atmosphere in the same crowded 

520 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

saloons can be described as meeting ; ever watching 
each other's movements and yet studious never to 
encounter each other's glance. The charms of Miss 
Millbank had become an universal topic ; they were 
celebrated in ball rooms, they were discussed at clubs ; 
Edith was the beauty of the season. All admired 
her, many sighed even to express their admiration ; 
but the devotion of Lord Beaumanoir, who always 
hovered about her, deterred them from a rivalry 
which might have made the boldest despair. As for 
Coningsby, he passed his life principally with the vari- 
ous members of the Sydney family ; and was almost 
daily riding with Lady Everingham and her sister, 
generally accompanied by Lord Henry and his friend 
Eustace Lyle, between whom indeed and Coningsby 
there were relations of intimacy scarcely less in- 
separable. Coningsby had spoken to Lady Evering- 
ham of the rumoured marriage of her elder brother, 
and found, although the family had not yet been 
formally apprised of it, she entertained very little 
doubt of its ultimate occurrence. She admired Miss 
Millbank with whom her acquaintance continued 
slight ; and she wished of course that her brother 
should marry and be happy, ' But Percy is often in 
love,' she would add, ' and never likes us to be very 
intimate with his inamoratas. He thinks it destroys 
the romance ; and that domestic familiarity may com- 
promise his heroic character. However,' she added, 
' I really believe that will be a match.' 

On the whole, though he bore a serene aspect to the 
world, Coningsby passed this month in a state of 
restless misery. His soul was brooding on one sub- 
ject and he had no confidant ; he could not resist the 
spell that impelled him to the society where Edith 
might at least be seen ; and the circle in which he 

521 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

lived was one in which her name was frequently 
mentioned. Alone, in his solitary rooms in the , 
Albany, he felt all his desolation ; and often a few 
minutes before he figured in the world apparently 
followed and courted by all, he had been plunged in 
the darkest fits of irremediable wretchedness. 

He had of course frequently met Lady Wallinger, 
but their salutations though never omitted and on 
each side cordial, were brief. There seemed to be a 
tacit understanding between them not to refer to a. 
subject fruitful in painful reminiscences. 

The season waned ; in the fulfilment of a project 
originally formed in the Playing fields of Eton, often 
recurred to at Cambridge, and cherished with the 
fondness with which men cling to a scheme of early 
youth, Coningsby, Henry Sydney, Vere and Buck- 
hurst, had engaged some moors together this year ; 
and in a few days they were about to quit town for 
Scotland. They had pressed Eustace Lyle to accom- 
pany them, but he who in general seemed to have no 
pleasure greater than their society had surprised them 
by declining their invitation, with some vague men- 
tion that he rather thought he should go abroad. 

It was the last day of July, and all the world were 
at a breakfast given, at a fanciful cottage, situate in 
beautiful gardens on the banks of the Thames, by 
Lady Everingham. The weather was as bright as 
the romances of Boccacio ; there were pyramids of 
strawberries in bowls colossal enough to hold orange 
trees ; and the choicest bands filled the air with 
enchanting strains, while a brilliant multitude saun- 
tered on turf like velvet, or roamed in desultory 
existence amid the quivering shades of winding 
walks. 

' My fete was prophetic,' said Lady Everingham 

522 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

when she saw Coningsby. ' I am glad it is con- 
nected with an incident. It gives it a point.' 

' You are mystical as well as prophetic. Tell me 
what are we to celebrate.' 

' Theresa is going to be married.' 

* Then I too will prophecy and name the hero of 
the romance — Eustace Lyle.' 

' You have been more prescient than me,' said 
Lady Everingham, ' perhaps because I was thinking 
too much of some one else.' 

' It seems to me an union which all must acknow- 
ledge perfect. I hardly know which I love best. I 
have had my suspicions a long time ; and when 
Eustace refused to go to the moors with us, though I 
said nothing, I was convinced.' 

' At any rate,' said Lady Everingham sighing with 
a rather smiling face, ' we are kinsfolk Mr. Con- 
ingsby ; though I would gladly have wished to have 
been more.' 

' Were those your thoughts, dear Lady ? Ever 
kind to me! But such happiness,' he added in a 
mournful tone, ' I fear can never be mine.' 

'And why.?' 

' Ah ! 'tis a tale too strange and sorrowful for a day 
when like Seged we must all determine to be happy.' 
' You have already made me miserable.' 
' Here comes a group that will make you gay,' said 
Coningsby as he moved on. Edith and the Wal- 
lingers accompanied by Lord Beaumanoir, Mr. 
Melton and Sir Charles Buckhurst formed the party. 
They seemed profuse in their congratulations to Lady 
Everingham, having already learnt the intelligence 
from her brother. 

Coningsby stopped to speak to Lady St. Julians, 
who had still a daughter to marry. Both Augustina 

523 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

who was at Coningsby Castle, and Clara Isabella who 
ought to have been there, had each secured the right 
man. But Adelaide Victoria had now appeared, and 
Lady St. Julians had a great regard for the favourite 
grandson of Lord Monmouth, and also for the in- 
fluential friend of Lord Vere and Sir Charles Buck- 
hurst. In case Coningsby did not determine to be- 
come her son-in-law himself, he might counsel either 
of his friends to a judicious decision on an inevitable 
act. 

* Strawberries and cream?' said Lord Eskdale to 
Mr. Ormsby who seemed occupied with some 
delicacies. 

' Egad ! no, no, no ; those days are passed. I 
think there is a little easterly wind with all this fine 
appearance.' 

' I am for in-door nature myself,' said Lord Esk- 
dale. ' Do you know I don't half like the way 
Monmouth is going on. He never gets out of that 
villa of his. He should change his air more. Tell 
him.' 

' It's no use telling him anything. Have you 
heard anything of Miladi ?^ 

' I had a letter from her to-day ; she writes in very 
good spirits. I am sorry it broke up, and yet I never 
thought it would last as long.' 

* I gave them two years,' said Mr. Ormsby, ' Lord 
Monmouth lived with his first wife two years. And 
afterwards with the Mirandola at Milan, at least 
nearly two years, it was a year and ten months. I 
must know, for he called me in to settle affairs. I 
took the lady to the Baths of Lucca on the pretence 
that Monmouth would meet us there. He went to 
Paris. All his great affairs have been two years. I 
remember I wanted to bet Cassilis at White's on it 

524 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

when he married, but I thought being his intimate 
friend, the oldest friend he has indeed, and one of his 
trustees, it was perhaps as well not to do it.' 

' You should have made the bet with himself,' 
said Lord Eskdale, ' and then there never would 
have been a separation.' 

* Hah, hah, hah ! Do you know I feel the wind.' 
About an hour after this Coningsby who had just 

quitted the Duchess, met on the terrace by the river 
Lady Wallinger walking with Mrs. Guy Flouncey 
and a Russian Prince whom that lady was enchanting. 
Coningsby was about to pass with some slight cour- 
tesy, but Lady Wallinger stopped and would speak 
to him : on very slight subjects ; the weather and the 
fete ; but yet enough adroitly managed to make him 
turn and join her. Mrs. Guy Flouncey walked on a 
little before with her Russian admirer. Lady Wal- 
linger followed with Coningsby. 

* The match that has been proclaimed to-day has 
greatly surprised me,' said Lady Wallinger. 

' Indeed ! ' said Coningsby, ' I confess I was long 
prepared for it. And it seems to me the most natural 
alliance conceivable and one that every one must 
approve.' 

' Lady Everingham seems very much surprised at 
it.' 

' Ah ! Lady Everingham is a very brilliant person- 
age, and cannot deign to observe obvious circum- 
stances.' 

' Do you know, Mr. Coningsby, that I always 
thought you were engaged to Lady Theresa.^' 

'I!' 

' Indeed we were informed more than a month 
ago, that you were positively going to be married to 
her.' 

52«? 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

' I am not one of those who can shift their affec- 
tions with such rapidity, Lady Wallinger,' 

Lady Wallinger looked distressed. ' You remem- 
ber our meeting you on the stairs at House, 

Mr. Coningsby.' 

' Painfully. It is deeply graven on my brain.' 

* Edith had just been informed that you were going 
to be married to Lady Theresa.' 

' Not surely by him to whom she is herself going 
to be married,' said Coningsby reddening. 

* I am not aware that she is going to be married to 
any one. Lord BeaUmanoir admires her ; has always 
admired her. But Edith has given him no encour- 
agement, at least gave him no encouragement as long 
as she believed — -but why dwell on such an unhappy 
subject, Mr. Coningsby. I am to blame, I have been 
to blame perhaps before, but indeed I think it cruel, 
very cruel that Edith and you are kept asunder.' 

' You have always been my best, my dearest 
friend ; and are the most amiable and admirable of 
women. But tell me, is it indeed true that Edith is 
not going to be married.^' 

At this moment Mrs. Guy Flouncey turned round, 
and assuring Lady Wallinger that the Prince and her- 
self had agreed to refer some point to her about the 
most transcendental ethics of flirtation, this deeply 
interesting conversation was arrested, and Lady Wal- 
linger with becoming sauvity was obliged to listen to 
the lady's lively appeal of exaggerated nonsense, and 
the Prince affected protests, while Coningsby walked 
by her side pale and agitated, and then offered his 
arm to Lady Wallinger which she accepted with an 
affectionate pressure. At the end of the terrace they 
met some other guests, and soon were immersed in 
the multitude that thronged the lawn. 

526 



Chapter VII CONINGSBY 

' There is Sir Joseph,' said Lady Wallinger, and 
Coningsby looked up, and saw Edith on his arm. 
They were unconsciously approaching them. Lord 
Beaumanoir was there, but he seemed to shrink into 
nothing to-day before Buckhurst, who was captivated 
for the moment by Edith, and hearing that no knight 
was resolute enough to try a fall with the Marquess, 
was impelled by his talent for action to enter the lists. 
He had talked down everybody, unhorsed every 
cavalier. Nobody had a chance against him ; he 
answered all your questions before you asked them ; 
contradicted everybody with the intrepidity of a 
Rigby ; annihilated your anecdotes by historiettes 
infinitely more piquant ; and if anybody chanced to 
make a joke which he could not excel, declared im- 
mediately that it was a Joe Miller. He was absurd, 
extravagant, grotesque, noisy ; but he was young, 
rattling, and interesting from his health and spirits. 
Edith was extremely amused by him ; and was en- 
couraging by her smile his spiritual excesses, when 
they all suddenly met Lady Wallinger and Con- 
ingsby. 

The eyes of Edith and Coningsby met for the first 
time since they so cruelly encountered on the^ staircase 

of House. A deep, quick blush suffused her 

face ; her eyes gleamed with a sudden corruscation ; 
suddenly and quickly she put forth her hand. 

Yes! he presses once more that hand which per- 
manently to retain is the passion of his life, yet which 
may never be his ! It seemed that for the ravishing 
delight of that moment, he could have borne with 
cheerfulness all the dark and harrowing misery of the 
year that had past away since he embraced her in the 
woods of Hellingsley, and pledged his faith by the 
waters of the rushing Darl. 

527 



CONINGSBY Book VIII 

He seized the occasion which offered itself, a 
moment to walk by her side, and to snatch some brief 
instants of unreserved communion. 

' Forgive me!' she said. 

' Ah ! how could you ever doubt me ! ' said 
Coningsby. 

* I was unhappy.' 

' And now we are to each other as before .?' 

* And will be ; come what come may.' 



528 



BOOK IX 



CHAPTER I 



It was merry Christmas St. Genevieve. There was a 
Yule log blazing on every hearth in that wide domain, 
from the hall of the squire to the peasant's roof. 
The Buttery Hatch was open for the whole week from 
noon to sunset ; all comers might take their fill, and 
each carry away as much bold beef, white bread, and 
jolly ale as a strong man could bear in a basket with 
one hand. For every woman a red cloak, and a coat 
of broad cloth for every man. All day long, carts 
laden with fuel and warm raiment were traversing the 
various districts, distributing comfort and dispensing 
cheer. For a Christian gentleman of high degree was 
Eustace Lyle. 

Within his hall too he holds his revel, and his 
beauteous bride welcomes their guests from her noble 
parents to the faithful tenants of the house. All 
classes are mingled in the joyous equality that be- 
comes the season, at once sacred and merry. There 
are carols for the eventful Eve, and mummers for the 
festive Day. 

The Duke and Duchess and every member of the 

family had consented this year to keep their Christmas 

with the newly married couple. Coningsby too was 

there, and all his friends. The party was numerous, 

2T. 529 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

gay, hearty and happy ; for they were all united by 
sympathy. 

They were planning that Henry Sydney should be 
appointed Lord of Misrule, or ordained Abbot of 
Unreason at the least, so successful had been his re- 
vival of the Mummers, the Hobby-horse not for- 
gotten. Their host had intrusted to Lord Henry 
the restoration of many old observances, and the joy- 
ous feeling which this celebration of Christmas had 
diffused throughout a very extensive district, was a 
fresh argument in favour of Lord Henry's principle, 
that a mere mechanical mitigation of the material 
necessities of the humbler classes, a mitigation which 
must inevitably be very limited, can never alone avail 
sufficiently to ameliorate their condition ; that their 
condition is not merely ' a knife and fork question,' 
to use the coarse and shallow phrase of the Utilitarian 
school ; that a simple satisfaction of the grosser neces- 
sities of our nature will not make a happy people ; 
that you must cultivate the heart as well as seek to 
content the belly ; and that the surest means to 
elevate the character of the people is to appeal to 
their affections. 

There is nothing more interesting than to trace 
predisposition. An indefinite yet strong sympathy 
with the Peasantry of the realm had been one of the 
characteristic sensibilities of Lord Henry at Eton. 
Yet i schoolboy, he had busied himself with their 
pastimes and the details of their cottage economy. 
As he advanced in life, the horizon of his views ex- 
panded with his intelligence and his experience, and 
the son of one of the noblest of our houses, to whom 
the delights of life are offered with fatal facility, on. 
the very threshold of his career, he devoted his timei 
and thought, labour and life, to one vast and noblei 

530 



Chapter I CONINGSBY 

purpose, the elevation of the condition of the great 
body of the people. 

' I vote for Buckhurst being Lord of Misrule,' said 
Lord Henry, * I will be content with being his Gentle- 
man Usher.' 

' It shall be put to the vote,' said Lord Vere. 

' No one has a chance against Buckhurst,' said 
Coningsby. 

' Now, Sir Charles,' said Lady Everingham, ' your 
absolute sway is about to commence. And what is 
your will.' 

' The first thing must be my formal installation,' 
said Buckhurst. ' I vote the Boar's head be carried 
in procession thrice round the hall, and Beau shall be 
the champion to challenge all who question my right. 
Duke, you shall be my chief butler ; the Duchess my 
herb woman. She is to walk before me, and scatter 
rosemary. Coningsby shall carry the Boar's head. 
Lady Theresa and Lady Everingham shall sing the 
canticle. Lord Everingham shall be Marshal of the 
lists, and put all in the stocks who are found sober 
and decorous. Lyle shall be the palmer from the 
Holy Land, and Vere shall ride the Hobby-horse. 
Some must carry cups of Hippocrass ; some lighted 
tapers ; all must join in chorus.' 

He ceased his instructions and all hurried away to 
carry them into effect. Some hastily arrayed them- 
selves in fanciful dresses, the ladies in robes of white 
with garlands of flowers, some drew pieces of armour 
from the wall, and decked themselves with helm 
and hauberk, others waved ancient banners. They 
brought in the Boar's head on a large silver dish, and 
Coningsby raised it aloft. They formed into proces- 
sion, the Duchess distributing rosemary, Buckhurst 
swaggering with all the majesty of Tamerlane, his 

531 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

mock court irrestistibly humorous with their servility, 
and the sweet voice of Lady Everingham chaunting 
the first verse of the Canticle, followed in the second 
by the rich tones of Lady Theresa. 

L 

Ca^xnt ^pxi Ibzizxo 

^ht gear's hmlz in hmxhz bring 1, 
Wiiih i^nxlnn^zs gag anb xosznmt^, 
1 }jrag g0tt all ^xwqz mzxxxi'Q, 
OJut zsiis in conbxi^io. 

IL 

da^jut ^pxi Ibcizxo 

'^zhhzns hixx'bzs ^omxwo 
^hc Roar's hcab 1 itiiierstanbe 
I0 the rhii^f szx\ivcz m this imx\iz 
JJak£ iuhereebn* x\ ht fanie 

(Serbite rum cautico. 

The procession thrice paraded the Hall. Then 
they stopped, and the Lord of Misrule ascended his 
throne and his courtiers formed round him in circle. 
Behind him they held the ancient banners and waved 
their glittering arms ; and placed on a lofty and 
illuminated pedestal the Boar's head covered with 
garlands. It was a good picture and the Lord of 
Misrule sustained his part with untiring energy. He 
was addressing his court in a pompous rhapsody of 
merry nonsense, when a servant approached Coninp-s- 
by and told him that he was wanted without. 

Our hero retired unperceived. A despatch hac 
arrived for him from London. Without any pre- 
science of its purpose, he nevertheless broke the sea* 
with a trembling hand. His presence was immedi- 
ately desired in town — Lord Monmouth was dead- 

532 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 



CHAPTER II 

This was a crisis in the life of Coningsby ; yet, like 
many critical epochs, the person most interested in 
it was not sufficiently aware of its character. The 
j first feeling which he experienced at the intelligence 
I was sincere affliction. He was fond of his grand- 
( father ; had received great kindness from him, and 
|l at a period of life when it was most welcome. The 
ji neglect and hardships of his early years, instead of 
ji leaving a prejudice against one who by some might 
I be esteemed their author, had only rendered by their 
contrast Coningsby more keenly sensible of the solici- 
tude and enjoyment which had been lavished on his 
happy youth. 

The next impression on his mind was undoubtedly 
a natural and reasonable speculation on the effect of 
this bereavement on his fortunes. Lord Monmouth 
had more than once assured Coningsby that he had 
provided for him as became a near relative to whom 
he was attached ; and in a manner which ought to 
satisfy the wants and wishes of an English gentle- 
man. The allowance which Lord Monmouth had 
made him, as considerable as usually accorded to the 
eldest sons of wealthy peers, might justify him in 
estimating his future patrimony as extremely ample. 
He was aware indeed that a subsequent period, his 
grandfather had projected for him fortunes of a still 
more elevated character. He looked to Coningsby 
as the future representative of an ancient Barony, and 
had been purchasing territory with the view of sup- 
porting the title. But Coningsby did not by any 
means firmly reckon on these views being realized. 
He had a suspicion that in thwarting the wishes of 

533 



CONINGSBY Book I 



^ 



his grandfather in not becoming a candidate for Darl- 
ford, he had at the moment arrested arrangements 
which, from the tone of Lord Monmouth's communi- 
cation, he believed were then in progress for that 
purpose; and he thought it improbable, with his 
knowledge of his grandfather's habits, that Lord 
Monmouth had found either time or inclination to 
resume before his decease the completion of these 
plans. Lideed there was a period when in adopting 
the course which he pursued with respect to Darl- 
ford, Coningsby was well aware that he perilled more 
than the large fortune which was to accompany the 
Barony. Had not a separation between Lord Mon- 
mouth and his wife taken place simultaneously with 
Coningsby's difference with his grandfather, he was 
conscious that the consequences might have been even 
altogether fatal to his prospects ; but the absence of 
her evil influence at such a conjuncture, its perma- 
nent removal indeed from the scene, coupled with 
his fortunate though not formal reconciliation with 
Lord Monmouth, had long ago banished from his 
memory all those apprehensions to which he had felt 
it impossible at the time to shut his eyes. Before he 
left town for Scotland, he had made a farewell visit 
to his grandfather, who, though not as cordial as in 
old days, had been gracious ; and Coningsby, during 
his excursion to the moors, and his various visits to 
the country, had continued at intervals to write to 
his grandfather, as had been for some years his cus- 
tom. On the whole, with an indefinite feeling which 
in spite of many a rational efl^ort, did nevertheless 
haunt his mind, that this great and sudden event 
might exercise a very vast and beneficial influence on 
his worldly position, Coningsby could not but feel 
some consolation in the afl^iction which he sincerely 

534 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

experienced, in the hope that he might at all events 
now offer to Edith a home worthy of her charms, 
her virtues, and her love. 

Although he had not seen her since their hurried 
yet sweet reconciliation in the gardens of Lady Ever- 
ingham, Coningsby was never long without indirect 
intelligence of the incidents of her life ; and the cor- 
respondence between Lady Everingham and Henry 
Sydney, while they were at the moors, had apprised 
him that Lord Beaumanoir's suit had terminated un- 
successfully almost immediately after his brother had 
quitted London. 

It was late in the evening when Coningsby arrived 
in town : he called at once on Lord Eskdale, who was 
one of Lord Monmouth's executors ; and he per- 
suaded Coningsby, whom he saw depressed, to dine 
with him alone. 

' You should not be seen at a Club,' said the good- 
natured peer ; * and I remember myself in old days 
what was the wealth of an Albanian larder.' 

Lord Eskdale at dinner talked very frankly of the 
disposition of Lord Monmouth's property. He 
spoke as a matter of course that Coningsby was his 
grandfather's principal heir. 

' I don't know whether you will be happier with a 
large fortune.?' said Lord Eskdale. ' It's a trouble- 
some thing ; nobody is satisfied with what you do 
with it ; very often not yourself. To maintain an 
equable expenditure ; not to spend too much on one 
thing, too little on another, is an art. There must 
be a harmony, a keeping, in disbursement, which 
very few men have. Great wealth worries. The 
thing to have is about ten thousand a-year, and the 
world to think you have only five. There's some 
enjoyment then ; one is let alone. But the instant 

535 



# 



^% 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

you have a large fortune, duties commence. And 
then impudent fellows borrow your money, and if 
you ask them for it again, they go about town saying 
you are a Screw.' 

Lord Monmouth had died suddenly at his Rich- 
mond villa, which latterly he never quitted, at a little 
supper ; with no persons near him but those who 
were very amusing. He suddenly found he could 
not lift his glass to his lips, and being extremely 
polite waited a few minutes before he asked Clotilde, 
who was singing a very sparkling drinking song, to 
do him that service. When in accordance with his 
request she reached him, it was too late. The ladies 
shrieked, being very frightened : at first they were in 
despair, but after reflection, they evinced some inten- 
tion of plundering the house. Villebecque who was 
V absent at the moment arrived in time; and every- 
body became orderly and broken-hearted. 

The body had been removed to Monmouth 
House, where it had been embalmed and laid in state. 
The funeral was not numerously attended. There 
was nobody in town ; some distinguished connexions 
however came up from the country, though it was a 
period inconvenient for such movements. After the 
funeral, the will was to be read in the principal saloon 
of Monmouth House, one of those gorgeous apart 
ments that had excited the boyish wonder of Con- 
ingsby on his first visit to that paternal roof, and now 
hung in black adorned with the escutcheon of the 
deceased peer. 

The testamentary dispositions of the late Lord 
were still unknown, though the names of his exe- 
cutors had been announced by his family solicitor, in 
whose custody the will and codicils had always re- 
mained. The executors under the will were Lord 

536 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

Eskdale, Mr. Ormsby, and Mr. Rigby. By a subse- 
quent appointment, Sidonia was added. All these 
individuals were now present. Coningsby, who had 
been chief mourner, stood on the right hand of the 
solicitor, who sat at the end of a long table, round 
which in groups were ranged all who had attended the 
funeral, including several of the superior members of 
the household ; among them M. Villebecque. 

The solicitor rose and explained that though Lord 
Monmouth had been in the habit of very frequently 
adding codicils to his will, the original will however 
changed or modified had never been revoked ; it was 
therefore necessary to commence by reading that in- 
strument. So saying he sate down, and breaking 
the seals of a large packet, he produced the will of 
Philip Augustus, Marquess of Monmouth, which 
had been retained in his custody since its execution. 

By this will, of the date of 1829, the sum of ten 
thousand pounds was left to Coningsby, then un- 
known to his grandfather ; the same sum to Mr. 
Rigby. There were a great number of legacies, none 
of inferior amount, most of them of a less ; these 
were chiefly left to old male companions and women 
in various countries. There was an almost incon- 
ceivable number of small annuities to faithful ser- 
vants, decayed actors, and obscure foreigners. The 
residue of his personal estate was left to four gentle- 
men ; three of whom had quitted this world before 
the legator ; the bequests therefore had lapsed. The 
fourth residuary legatee, in whom according to the 
terms of the will all would have consequently centred 
was Mr. Rigby. 

There followed several codicils which did not 
materially efl^ect a previous disposition ; one of them 
leaving a legacy of ^20,000 to the Princess Colonna ; 

537 



CONINGSBY Book IX ; 

_ ^ 

until they arrived at the latter part of the year 1832, 
when a codicil increased the ^10,000 left under the 
will to Coningsby to ;^5o,ooo. 

After Coningsby's visit to the Castle in 1836 a 
very important change occurred in the disposition of 
Lord Monmouth's estate. The legacy of ^50,000 
in his favour was revoked, and the same sum left to 
the Princess Lucretia. A similar amount was be- 
queathed to Mr. Rigby; and Coningsby was left 
sole residuary legatee. 

The marriage led to a considerable modification. 
An estate of about nine thousand a year which Lord 
Monmouth had himself purchased, and was therefore 
in his own disposition was left to Coningsby. The 
legacy to Mr. Rigby was reduced to ;^2o,ooo, and 
the whole of his residue left to his issue by Lady 
Monmouth ; in case he died without issue, the estate- 
bequeathed to Coningsby to be taken into account, 
and the residue then to be divided equally between 
Lady Monmouth and his grandson. It was under 
this instrument that Sidonia had been appointed an 
executor, and to whom Lord Monmouth left, among 
others, his celebrated picture of the Holy Family by 
Murillo, as his friend had often admired it. To Lord 
Eskdale he left all his female miniatures, and to Mr. 
Ormsby his rare and splendid collection of French 
novels, and all his wines, except his Tokay, which he 
left, with his library to Sir Robert Peel ; though this 
legacy was afterwards revoked in consequence of Sir 
Robert's conduct about the Irish Corporations. 

The solicitor paused and begged permission to 
send for a glass of water. While this was arranging 
there was a murmur at the lower part of the room, 
but little disposition to conversation among those in 
the vicinity of the lawyer. Coningsby was silent, 

538 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

his brow a little knit ; Mr. Rigby was extremely pale 
and restless, but said nothing. Mr. Ormsby took a 
pinch of snuff, and offered his box to Lord Eskdale 
who was next to him. They exchanged glances, and 
made some observation about the weather. Sidonia 
stood apart with his arms folded. He had not of 
course attended the funeral, nor had he as yet ex- 
changed any recognition with Coningsby. 

' Now, gentlemen,' said the solicitor, ' if you 
please I will proceed.' 

They came to the year 1839, ^^^ 7^^^ Coningsby 
was at Hellingsley. This appeared to be a very 
critical period in the fortunes of Lady Monmouth ; 
while Coningsby's reached to the culminating point. 
Mr. Rigby was reduced to his original legacy under 
the will of ^10,000 ; a sum of equal amount was be- 
queathed to Armand Villebecque in acknowledg- 
ment of faithful services ; all the dispositions in fav- 
our of Lady Monmouth were revoked, and she was 
limited to her moderate jointure of ^3,000 per an- 
num, under the marriage settlement ; while every- 
thing without reserve was left absolutely to Con- 
ingsby. 

A subsequent codicil determined that the ^10,000 
left to Mr. Rigby should be equally divided between 
him and Lucian Gay, but as some compensation. 
Lord Monmouth left to the Right Honourable 
Nicholas Rigby the bust of that gentleman, which 
he had himself presented to his Lordship, and which 
at his desire had been placed in the vestibule at Con- 
ingsby Castle, from the amiable motive that after 
Lord Monmouth's decease Mr. Rigby might wish 
perhaps to present it to some other friend. 

Lord Eskdale and Mr. Ormsby took care not to 
catch the eye of Mr. Rigby. As for Coningsby he 

539 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

saw nobody. He maintained during the extraordi- 
nary situation in which he was placed a firm demean- 
our ; but serene and regulated as he appeared to the 
spectators, his nerves were really strung to a high 
pitch. 

There was yet another codicil. It bore the date 
of June 1840; and was made at Brighton immedi- 
ately after the separation with Lady Monmouth. It 
was the sight of this instrument that sustained Rigby 
at this great emergency. He had a wild conviction 
that after all, it must set all right. He felt assured 
that as Lady Monmouth had already been disposed 
of, it must principally refer to the disheritance of 
Coningsby — secured by Rigby's well-timed and 
malignant mis-representations of what had occurred 
in Lancashire during the preceding summer. And 
then to whom could Lord Monmouth leave his 
money .f^ However he might cut and carve up his 
fortunes, Rigby, and especially at a moment when he 
had so served him, must come in for a considerable 
slice. 

His prescient mind was right. All the disposi- 
tions in favour of * my grandson Harry Coningsby ' 
were revoked ; and he inherited from his grandfather 
only the interest of the sum of /" 10,000 which had 
been originally bequeathed to him in his orphan boy- 
hood. The executors had the power of investing the 
principle in any way they thought proper for his 
advancement in life, provided always it was not placed 
in * the capital stock of any manufactory.' 

Coningsby turned pale; he lost his abstracted 
look, he caught the eye of Rigby, he read the latent 
malice of that nevertheless anxious countenance. 
What passed through the mind and being of Con- 
ingsby was thought and sensation enough for a year, 

540 



Chapter II CONINGSBY 

yet it was as the flash that reveals a whole country, 
yet ceases to be ere one can say it lightens. There 
was a revelation to him of an inward power that 
should baffle these conventional calamities ; a natural 
and sacred confidence in his youth and health, and 
knowledge and convictions. Even the recollection 
of Edith was not unaccompanied with some sustain- 
ing associations. At least the mightiest foe to their 
union was departed. 

All this was the impression of an instant, simul- 
taneous with the reading of the words of form with 
which the last testamentary disposition of the Mar- 
quess of Monmouth left the sum of ;^3o,ooo to 
Armand Villebecque ; and all the rest, residue, and 
remainder of his unentailed property wheresoever 
and whatsoever it might be, amounting in value to 
nearly a million sterling, was given devised and be- 
queathed to Flora, commonly called Flora Ville- 
becque, the step-child of the said Armand Ville- 
becque, ' but who is my natural daughter by Marie 
Estelle Matteau, an actress at the Theatre Fran9ais 
in the years 1 8 1 1 — 1 5 by the name of Stella.' 

CHAPTER III 

' This is a crash,' said Coningsby with a grave rather 
than agitated countenance to Sidonia, as his friend 
came up to greet him without however any expression 
of condolence. 

' This time next year, you will not think so,' said 
Sidonia. 

Coningsby shrugged his shoulders. 

* The principal annoyance of this sort of miscar- 
riage,' said Sidonia, * is the condolence of the gentle 
world. I think we may now depart. I am going 

541 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

home to dine. Come and discuss your position. For 
the present we will not speak of it.' So saying 
Sidonia good-naturedly got Coningsby out of the 
room. 

They walked together to Sidonia's house in Carlton 
Gardens, neither of them making the slightest 
allusion to the catastrophe ; Sidonia inquiring where 
he had been, what he had been doing, since they last 
met, and himself conversing in his usual vein, though 
with a little more feeling in his manner than was his 
custom. When they had arrived there, Sidonia 
ordered their dinner instantly, and during the interval 
between the command and its appearance, he called 
Coningsby's attention to an old German painting he 
had just received, its brilliant colouring and quaint 
costumes. 

'Eat, and an appetite will come,' said Sidonia, when 
he observed Coningsby somewhat reluctant. ' Take 
some of that Chablis ; it will put you right ; you will 
find it delicious.' 

In this way some twenty minutes past ; their meal 
was over, and they were alone together. 

' I have been thinking all this- time of your posi- 
tion,' said Sidonia. 

' A sorry one, I fear,' said Coningsby. 

' I really cannot see that,' said his friend. ' You 
have experienced this morning a disappointment ; but 
not a calamity. If you had lost your eye it would 
have been a calamity : no combination of circum- 
stances could have given you another. There are 
really no miseries except natural miseries : Conven- 
tional misfortunes are mere illusions. What seems 
conventionally in a limited view a great misfortune, 
if subsequently viewed in its results, is often the 
happiest incident in one's life.' 

542 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

' I hope the day may come when I may feel this.' 

' Now is the moment when philosophy is of 
use; that is to say, now is the moment when you 
should clearly comprehend the circumstances which 
surround you. Holiday philosophy is mere idleness. 
You think, for example, that you have just experi- 
enced a great calamity, because you have lost the 
fortune on which you counted ?' 

' I must say I do.' 

' I ask you again : which would you have rather 
lost, your grandfather's inheritance or your right 
leg?' 

' Most certainly my inheritance.' 

' Or your left arm.?' 

' Still the inheritance.' 

' Would you have received the inheritance on con- 
dition, that your front tooth should have been 
knocked out.' 

' No ; certainly not.' 

' Would you have given up a year of your life for 
that fortune trebled.'" 

' Even at twenty-three, I would have refused the 
terms.' 

' Come, come, Coningsby, the calamity cannot be 
very great.' 

' Why you have put it in a very ingenious point of 
view ; and yet it is not easy to convince a man that he 
should be content who has lost everything.' 

' You have a great many things at this moment that 
you separately prefer to the fortune that you have 
forfeited. How then can you be said to have lost 
everything.''' 

' What have I ?'' said Coningsby, despondingly. 

' You have health, youth, good looks, great abili- 
ties, considerable knowledge, a fine courage, a lofty 

543 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

spirit, and no contemptible experience. With each 
of these qualities one might make a fortune ; the 
combination ought to command the highest.' 

' You console me,' said Coningsby, with a faint 
blush and a fainter smile. 

* I teach you the truth. That is always solacing. 
I think you are a most fortunate young man ; I should 
not have thought you more fortunate if you had been 
your grandfather's heir ; perhaps less so. But I wish 
you to comprehend your position : if you understand 
it, you will cease to lament.' 

' But what should I do .?' 

'Bring your intelligence to bear on the right object. 
I make you no offers of fortune, because I know you 
would not accept them, and indeed I have no wish to 
see you a lounger in life. If you had inherited a 
great patrimony, it is possible your natural character 
and previous culture might have saved you from its 
paralysing influence ; but it is a question even with 
you. Now you are free — that is to say you are free, 
if you are not in debt. A man who has not seen the 
world, whose fancy is harassed with glittering images 
of pleasures he has never experienced, cannot live on 
;^300 per annum ; but you can. You have nothing 
to haunt your thoughts, or disturb the abstraction of 
your studies. You have seen the most beautiful 
women ; you have banquetted in palaces ; you know 
what heroes and wits and statesmen are made of ; and 
you can draw on your memory instead of your 
imagination for all those dazzling and interesting 
objects that make the inexperienced restless, and are 
the cause of what are called scrapes. But you can do 
nothing if you be in debt. You must be free. Be- 
fore therefore we proceed, I must beg you to be 
frank on this head. If you have any absolute or 

544 



Chapter III CONINGSBY 

contingent incumbrances, tell me of them without 
reserve, and permit me to clear them at once to any 
amount. You will sensibly oblige me in so doing : 
because I am interested in watching your career, and 
if the racer start with a clog my psychological observa- 
tions will be imperfect.' 

' You are indeed a friend ; and had I debts I would 
ask you to pay them. I have nothing of the kind. 
My grandfather was so lavish in his allowance to me 
that I never got into difficulties. Besides there are 
horses and things without end which I must sell, and 
money at Drummond's.' 

' That will produce your outfit, whatever the 
course you adopt. I conceive there are two careers 
which deserve your consideration. In the first place 
there is Diplomacy. If you decide upon that, I can 
assist you. There exists between me and the Min- 
ister such relations that I can at once secure you that 
first step which is so difficult to obtain. After that 
much, if not all, depends on yourself. But I could 
advance you, provided you were capable. You 
should at least not languish for want of preferment. 
In an important post, I could throw in your way 
advantages which would soon permit you to control 
cabinets. Information commands the world. I 
doubt not your success, and for such a career, speedy. 
Let us assume it as a fact. Is it a result satisfactory ? 
Suppose yourself in a dozen years a Plenipotentiary 
at a chief court or at a critical post ; with a red ribbon 
and the Privy Council in immediate perspective ; and 
after a lengthened career, a pension and a peerage. 
Would that satisfy you? You don't look excited. 
I am hardly surprised. In your position, it would 
not satisfy me. A Diplomatist is after all a phantom. 
There Is a want of nationality about his being. I 
2M 545 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

always look upon Diplomatists as the Hebrews of 
politics ; without country, political creeds, popular 
convictions, that strong reality of existence which 
pervades the career of an eminent citizen in a free and 
great country.' 

' You read my thoughts,' said Coningsby. * I 
should be sorry to sever myself from England.' 

* There remains then the other, the greater, the 
nobler career,' said Sidonia, ' which in England may 
give you all — the Bar. I am absolutely persuaded . 
that with the requisite qualifications and with per- 
severance, success at the Bar is certain. It may be; 
retarded or precipitated by circumstances ; but cannot ! 
be ultimately affected. You have a right to count' 
with your friends on no lack of opportunities when 
you are ripe for them. You appear to me to have all 
the qualities necessary for the Bar : and you may 
count on that perseverance, which is indispensable, for 
the reason I have before mentioned, because it will be 
sustained by your experience.' 

* I have resolved,' said Coningsby ; ' I will try for 
the Great Seal.' 

CHAPTER IV 

Alone in his chambers, no longer under the sustain- 
ing influence of Sidonia's converse and counsel, the 
shades of night descending and bearing gloom to the 
gloomy, all the excitement of his spirit evaporated, 
the heart of Coningsby sank. All now depended on 
himself, and in that self he had no trust. Why 
should he succeed .f^ Success was the most rare of 
results. Thousands fail ; units triumph. And even 
success could only be conducted to him by the course 
of many years. His career, even if prosperous, was 
now to commence by the greatest sacrifice which the 

546 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

heart of man could be called upon to sustain. Upon 
the stern altar of his fortunes, he must immolate his 
first and enduring love. Before, he had a perilous 
position to offer Edith ; now he had none. The 
future might then have aided them ; there was no 
combination which could improve his present. Under 
any circumstances, he must after all his thought and 
studies, commence a new novitiate, and before he 
could enter the arena, must pass years of silent and 
obscure preparation. 'Twas very bitter. He looked 
up, his eye caught that drawing of the towers of 
Hellingsley which she had given him in the days of 
their happy hearts. That was all that was to remain 
of their loves. He was to bear it to the future scene 
of his labours, to remind him through revolving years 
of toil and routine, that he too had had his romance, 
had roamed in fair gardens, and whispered in willing 
ears, the secrets of his passion. That drawing was 
to become the altar piece of his life 

Coningsby passed an agitated night of broken 
sleep, waking often with a consciousness of having 
experienced some great misfortune, yet with a very 
indefinite conception of its nature. He woke ex- 
hausted and dispirited. It was a gloomy day, a raw 
north-easter blowing up the cloisters of the Albany, 
in which the fog was lingering, the newspaper on his 
breakfast table full of rumoured particulars of his 
grandfather's will, which had of course been duly 
digested by all who knew him. What a contrast to 
St. Genevieve ! To the bright bracing morn of that 
merry Christmas! That radiant and cheerful scene, 
and those gracious and beaming personages, seemed 
another world and order of beings to the one he now 
habited and the people with whom he must now com- 
mune. The Great Seal indeed! It was the wild 

547 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

excitement of despair, the frenzied hope that blends 
inevitably with absolute ruin, that could alone have 
inspired such a hallucination! His unstrung heart 
deserted him. His energies could rally no more. 
He gave orders that he was at home to no one ; and 
in his dressing gown and slippers, with his feet resting 
on the fire-place, the once high-souled and noble- 
hearted Coningsby delivered himself up to despair. 

The day passed in a dark trance rather than a 
reverie. Nothing rose to his consciousness. He 
was like a particle of Chaos ; at the best, a glimmer- 
ing entity of some shadowy Hades. Towards even- 
ing the wind changed, the fog dispersed, there came a 
clear starry night, brisk and bright. Coningsby 
roused himself, dressed, and wrapping his cloak 
around him sallied forth. Once more in the mighty 
streets, surrounded by millions, his petty griefs and 
personal fortunes assumed their proper position. 
Well had Sidonia taught him, view everything in its 
relation to the rest. 'Tis the secret of all wisdom. 
Here was the mightiest of modern cities ; the rival 
even of the most celebrated of the ancient. Whether 
he inherited or forfeited fortunes, what was it to the 
passing throng.? They would not share his splen- 
dour, or his luxury, or his comfort. But a word from 
his lip, a thought from his brain expressed at the right 
time, at the right place, might change their opinions, 
might affect their destiny. Nothing is great but the 
personal. As civilisation advances, the accidents of 
life become each day less important. The power of 
man, his greatness and his glory, depend on essential 
qualities. Brains every day become more precious 
than blood. You must give men new ideas, you 
must teach them new words, you must modify their 
manners, you must change their laws, you must root 

548 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 

out prejudices, subvert convictions, if you wish to be 
great. Greatness no longer depends on rentals ; the 
world is too rich ; nor on pedigrees ; the world is too 
knowing. 

' The greatness of this city destroys my misery,' 
said Coningsby, ' and my genius shall conquer its 
greatness ! ' 

This conviction of power in the midst of despair 
was a revelation of intrinsic strength. It is indeed 
the test of a creative spirit. From that moment all 
petty fears for an ordinary future quitted him. He 
felt that he must be prepared for great sacrifices, for 
infinite suffering ; that there must devolve on him a 
bitter inheritance of obscurity, struggle, envy and 
hatred, vulgar prejudice, base criticism, petty hostili- 
ties, but the dawn would break, and the hour arrive, 
when the welcome morning hymn of his success and 
his fame would sound and be re-echoed. 

He returned to his rooms ; calm, resolute. He 
slept the deep sleep of a man void of anxiety ; that 
has neither hope nor fear to haunt his visions, but is 
prepared to rise on the morrow collected for the great 
human struggle. 

And the morrow came. Fresh, vigorous, not rash 
or precipitate, yet determined to lose no tim.e in idle 
meditation, Coningsby, already resolved at once to 
quit his present residence, was projecting a visit to 
some legal quarter, where he intended in future to 
reside, when his servant brought him a note. The 
handwriting was feminine. The note was from 
Flora. The contents were brief. She begged Mr. 
Coningsby with great earnestness to do her the 
honour and the kindness of calling on her at his 
earliest convenience, at the hotel in Brook Street 
where she now resided. 

549 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

It was an interview which Coningsby would rather 
have avoided ; yet it seemed to him, after a moment's : 
reflection, neither just nor kind, nor manly to refuse 
her request. Flora had not injured him. She was 
after all his kin. Was it for a moment to be sup- | 
posed that he was envious of her lot.^* He replied, 
therefore, that in an hour he would wait upon her. 

In an hour then two individuals are to be brought 
together, whose first meeting was held under circum- ' 
stances most strangely different. Then Coningsby . 
was the patron, a generous and spontaneous one, of a | 
being obscure, almost friendless, and sinking under ' 
bitter mortification. His favour could not be the less 
appreciated because he was the chosen relative of a j 
powerful noble. That noble was no more ; his vast ' 
inheritance had devolved on the disregarded, even 
despised actress, whose suffering emotions Coningsby j 
had then soothed, and whose fortune had risen on the ' 
destruction of all his prospects, and the baulk of all 
his aspirations. 

Flora was alone when Coningsby was ushered into 
the room. The extreme delicacy of her appearance 
was increased by her deep mourning, and seated in a 
cushioned chair, from which she seemed to rise with 
an effort, she certainly presented little of the character 
of a fortunate and prosperous heiress. 

* You are very good to come to me,' she said, 
faintly smiling. 

Coningsby extended his hand to her affectionately 
in which she placed her own, looking down much 
embarrassed. 

' You have an agreeable situation here,' said Con- 
ingsby, trying to break the first awkwardness of their 1 
meeting. 

* Yes ; but I hope not to stay here long.' 

550 i, 






Chapter IV CONINGSBY 



* You are going abroad ?' 

' No ; I hope never to leave England ! ' 

There was a slight pause ; and then Flora sighed 
and said : 

' I wish to speak to you on a subject that gives me 
pain ; yet of which I must speak. You think I have 
injured you?' 

' I am sure,' said Coningsby in a tone of great 
kindness, ' that you could injure no one.' 

* I have robbed you of your inheritance.' 

' It was not mine by any right legal or moral. 
There were others who might have urged an equal 
claim to it ; and there are many who will now think 
that you might have preferred a superior one.' 

' You had enemies ; I was not one. They sought 
to benefit themselves by injuring you. They have 
not benefited themselves ; let them not say, that they 
have at least injured you.' 

' We will care not what they say,' said Coningsby, 
' I can sustain my lot.' 

' Would that I could mine ! ' said Flora. She 
sighed again with a downcast glance. Then looking 
up embarrassed and blushing deeply, she added : ' I 
wish to restore to you that fortune of which I have 
unconsciously and unwillingly deprived you.' 

' The fortune is yours, dear Flora, by every right ;' 
said Coningsby much moved ; ' and there is no one 
who wishes more fervently, that it may contribute to 
your happiness than I do.' 

' It is killing me,' said Flora, mournfully ; then 
speaking with unusual animation, with a degree of 
excitement, she continued : ' I must tell what I feel. 
This fortune is yours. I am happy in the inheritance, 
if you generously receive it from me, because Pro- 
vidence has made me the means of bafHing your 

551 



CONINGSBY Book IX 



enemies. I never thought to be so happy as I shall be 
if you will generously accept this fortune, always 
intended for you. I have lived then for a purpose ; 
I have not lived in vain ; I have returned to you some 
service, however humble, for all your — goodness to 
me in my unhappiness.' 

' You are, as I have ever thought you, the kindest 
and most tender-hearted of beings. But you mis- 
conceive our mutual positions, my gentle Flora. The 
custom of the world does not permit such acts to 
either of us as you contemplate. The fortune is 
yours. It is left you by one on whose affections you 
had the highest claim. I will not say that so large an 
inheritance does not bring with it an alarming respon- 
sibility ; but you are not unequal to it. Have con- 
fidence in yourself. You have a good heart ; you 
have good sense ; you have a well-principled being. 
Your spirit will mount with your fortunes, and blend 
with them. You will be happy.' 

' And you.'^' 

* I shall soon learn to find content, if not happiness, 
from other sources,' said Coningsby ; ' and mere 
riches, however vast, could at no time have secured 
my felicity.' 

* But they may secure that which brings felicity,' 
said Flora, speaking in a choaking voice, and not 
meeting the glance of Coningsby. ' You had some 
views in life which displeased him who has done all 
this ; they may be, they must be, affected by this fatal 
caprice. Speak to me, for I cannot speak, dear Mr. 
Coningsby ; do not let me believe that I, who would 
sacrifice my life for your happiness, am the cause of 
such calamities!' 

' Whatever be my lot, I repeat I can sustain 
it,' said Coningsby with a cheek of scarlet. 

552 



1 



Chapter IV CONINGSBY 



* Ah ! he is angry with me,' exclaimed Flora, ' he is 
angry with me,' and the . tears stole down her pale 
cheek. 

' No, no, no, dear Flora ; I have no other feelings 
to you but those of aifection and respect,' and Con- 
ingsby much agitated drew his chair nearer to her and 
took her hand. ' I am gratified by these kind wishes, 
though they are utterly impracticable ; but they are 
the witnesses of your sweet disposition and your noble 
spirit. There never shall exist between us, under any 
circumstances, other feelings but those of kin and 
kindness.' 

He rose as if to depart. When she saw that, she 
started, and seemed to summon all her energies. 

' You are going,' she exclaimed, ' and I have said 
nothing, I have said nothing. And I shall never see 
you again. Let me tell you what I mean. This 
fortune is yours ; it must be yours. It is an arrow in 
my heart. Do not think I am speaking from a 
momentary impulse. I know myself. I have lived 
so much alone ; I have had so little to deceive or to 
delude me ; that I know myself. If you will not let 
me do justice, you declare my doom. I cannot live if 
my existence is the cause of all your prospects being 
blasted, and the sweetest dreams of your life being 
defeated. When I die, these riches will be yours ; 
that you cannot prevent. Refuse my present offer, 
and you seal the fate of that unhappy Flora, whose 
fragile life has hung for years on the memory of your 
kindness.' 

* You must not say these words, dear Flora, you 
must not indulge in these gloomy feelings. You 
must live, and you must live happily. You have 
every charm and virtue which should secure happi- 
ness. The duties and the affections of existence will 

553 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

fill to your lot. It is one that will always interest me, 
for I shall ever be your friend. You have conferred 
on me one of the most delightful of feelings — grati- 
tude, and for that I bless you. I will soon see you 
again.' Mournfully he bade her farewell. 

CHAPTER V 

About a week after this interview with Flora, as 
Coningsby one morning was about to sally forth 
from the Albany to visit some chambers in the 
Temple to which his notice had been attracted, there 
was a loud ring, a bustle in the hall, and Henry Syd- 
ney and Buckhurst were ushered in. 

There never was such a cordial meeting ; and yet 
the faces of his friends were serious. The truth is, 
the paragraphs in the newspapers had circulated in 
the country, they had written to Coningsby, and 
after a brief delay he had confirmed their worst appre- 
hensions. Immediately they came up to town. 
Henry Sydney, a younger son, could offer little but 
sympathy, but he declared that it was his intention also 
to study for the Bar, so they should not be divided. 
Buckhurst after many embraces, and some ordinary 
talk, took Coningsby aside, and said, ' My dear fel- 
low, I have no objection to Henry Sydney hearing 
everything I say ; but still these are subjects which 
men like to be discussed in private. Of course I 
expect you to share my fortune. There is enough 
for both. We will have an exact division.' 

Inhere was something in Buckhurst's fervent 
resolution very loveable and a little humorous, just 
enough to put one in a good temper with human 
nature and life. If there were any fellow's fortune 
in the world that Coningsby would share, Buckhurst's 

554 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

would have had the preference, but while he pressed 
his hand, and with a glance in which a tear and a 
smile seemed to contend for mastery, he gently indi- 
cated why such arrangements were with our present 
manners impossible. 

' I see,' said Buckhurst after a moment's thought. 
' I quite agree with you. The thing cannot be done ; 
and to tell you the truth, a fortune is a bore. What 
I vote that we three do at once is to take plenty of 
ready money, and enter the Austrian service. By 
Jove, it is the only thing to do.' 

' There is something in that,' said Coningsby. 
' In the meantime, suppose you two fellows walk 
with me to the Temple ; for I have an appointment to 
look at some chambers.^ 

It was a fine day, and it was by no means a gloomy 
walk. Though the two friends had arrived full of 
indignation against Lord Monmouth and miserable 
about their companion, once more in his society and 
finding little difference in his carriage, they assumed 
unconsciously their habitual tone. As for Buck- 
hurst, he was delighted with the Temple which he 
visited for the first time. The name enchanted him. 
The tombs in the Church convinced him that the 
Crusades were the only career. He would have 
himself become a law student, if he might have pro- 
secuted his studies in chain armour. The calmer 
Henry Sydney was consoled for the misfortunes of 
Coningsby by a fanciful project himself to pass a 
portion of his life amid these halls and courts, gar- 
dens and terraces, that maintain in the heart of a 
great city in the nineteenth century so much of the 
grave romance and picturesque decorum of our past 
manners. Henry Sydney was very sanguine ; he 
was reconciled to the disinheritance of Coningsby by 

555 



k 



CONINGSBY Book IX 

the conviction that it was a providential dispensa- 
tion to make him a Lord Chancellor. 

These faithful friends remained in town with Con- 
ingsby until he was established in Paper Buildings, 
and had become a pupil of a celebrated special 
pleader. They would have remained longer, had not 
he himself suggested that it was better that they 
should part. They parted with deep emotion. It 
seemed a terrible catastrophe after all the visions of 
their boyish days ; their college dreams ; and their 
dazzling adventures in the world. 

' And this is the end of Coningsby, the brilliant 
Coningsby, that we all loved, that was to be our 
leader!' said Buckhurst, to Lord Henry as they 
quitted him. ' Well, come what may, life has lost 
something of its bloom.' 

' The great thing now,' said Lord Henry, ' is to 
keep up the chain of our friendship. We must write 
to him very often ; and contrive to be frequently 
together. It is dreadful to think that in the ways 
of life our hearts may become estranged. I never 
felt more wretched than I do at this moment, and yet 
I have faith that we shall not lose him.' 

' Amen ! ' said Buckhurst, ' but I feel my plan 
about the Austrain service was after all the only 
thing. The continent offers a career. He might 
have been Prime Minister : several strangers have 
been ; and as for war, look at Brown and Laudohn 
and half a hundred others. I had a much better 
chance of being a Field-Marshal than he has of being 
a Lord Chancellor.' 

* I feel quite convinced that Coningsby will be 
Lord Chancellor,' said Henry Sydney gravely. 

This change of life for Coningsby was a great social 
revolution. It was sudden and complete. Within 



Chapter V CONINGSBY 

a month after the death of his grandfather, his name 
had been erased from all his fashionable clubs, his 
horses and carriages sold, and he had become a stu- 
dent of the Temple. He entirely devoted himself 
to his new pursuit. Flis being was completely 
absorbed in it. There was nothing to haunt his 
mind ; no inexperienced scene or sensation of life to 
distract his intelligence. One sacred thought alone 
indeed there remained, shrined in the innermost sanc- 
tuary of his heart and consciousness. But it was a 
tradition, no longer a hope. The moment that he 
had fairly recovered from the first shock of his grand- 
father's will, had clearly ascertained the consequences 
to himself, and had resolved on the course to pursue, 
he had communicated unreservedly with Oswald 
Millbank, and had renounced those pretensions to 
the hand of his sister which it ill became the destitute 
to prefer. 

His letter was answered in person. Millbank met 
Henry Sydney and Buckhurst at the chambers of 
Coningsby. Once more they were all four together ; 
but under what different circumstances, and with 
what different prospects to those which attended 
their separation at Eton! Alone with Coningsby, 
Millbank spoke to him things which letters could not 
convey. He bore to him all the sympathy and devo- 
tion of Edith, but they would not conceal from them- 
selves that, at this moment, and in the present state 
of affairs, all was hopeless. In no way did Con- 
ingsby ever permit himself to intimate to Oswald 
the cause of his disinheritance. He was of course 
silent on it to his other friends, as any communica- 
tion of the kind must have touched on a subject that 
was consecrated in his inmost soul. 



557 



CONINGSBY Book IX 



CHAPTER VI 

The state of political parties in England in the spring 
of 1 841 offered a most remarkable contrast to their 
condition at the period commemorated in the first 
chapter of this work. The banners of the Conserva- 
tive camp at this moment lowered on the Whig forces 
as the gathering host of the Norman invader frowned 
on the coast of Sussex. The Whigs were not yet 
conquered, but they were doomed ; and they them- 
selves knew it. The mistake which was made by the 
Conservative leaders in not retaining office in 1839, 
and whether we consider their conduct in a national 
and constitutional light, or as a mere question of 
political tactics and party prudence, it was unques- 
tionably a great mistake, had infused into the corpse 
of Whig authority a kind of galvanic action, which 
only the superficial could mistake for vitality. Even 
to form a basis for their future operations, after the 
conjuncture of — 39, the Whigs were obliged to 
make a fresh inroad on the revenue, the daily in- 
creasing debility of which was now arresting atten- 
tion, and exciting public alarm. It was clear that 
the catastrophe of the government would be finan- 
cial. 

Under all the circumstances of the case, the con- 
duct of the Whig Cabinet in their final propositions 
cannot be described as deficient either in boldness or 
prudence. The policy which they recommended 
was in itself a sagacious and spirited policy, but they 
erred in supposing that at the period it was brought 
forward any measures promoted by the Whigs could 
have obtained general favour in the country. The 
Whigs were known to be feeble ; they were looked 

558 



Chapter VI CONINGSBY 

upon as tricksters. The country knew they were 
opposed by a very powerful party, and though there 
certainly never was any authority for the belief, the 
country did believe that that powerful party were 
influenced by great principles ; had in their view a 
definite and national policy ; and would secure Eng- 
land, instead of a feeble administration and fluctuat- 
ing opinions, energy and a creed. 

The future efi^ect of the Whig propositions of 
— 41 will no